The A537, a picturesque Peak District route beloved of high-speed motorcyclists, was named yesterday as the most dangerous road in Britain.
The European Road Assessment Programme (EuroRAP), which is led by the AA Motoring Trust, highlighted the "persistently high-risk" that is represented by the A537, which runs all the way from Macclesfield in Cheshire to Buxton, Derbyshire.
John Dawson, director of the AA Motoring Trust and EuroRAP chairman, said people were still dying on Britain's roads because of a lack of basic protection. Among the most lethal hazards were trees and lampposts next to high-speed A-roads. A crash test at the Transport Research Laboratory in Crowthorne, Berkshire, showed the devastating effect of a telegraph pole on a family car.
"Such deaths would never be acceptable in the air, on the railways or in the workplace," Mr Dawson said. "It's right that billions of pounds are being spent on railway safety, which works out at around £10m for every life saved. But we can save hundreds more people every year on the roads for just a fraction of that, and deliver massive savings to the NHS into the bargain."
The other five high-risk roads are the A534 from the Welsh boundary to Nantwich, Cheshire; the A682 from the M65 junction 13 to the A65 at Long Preston, North Yorkshire; the A54 from Congleton, Derbyshire, to Buxton; the A631 from Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, to the A1103; and the A683 in Cumbria from the A6 to Kirkby Lonsdale.
Twenty-two roads were identified on which at least one person per mile has been killed or seriously injured in three years.
Local authorities have made improvements to all six of the most dangerous roads since the accident totals were compiled in 2001, the AA Motoring Trust said.
The study said that simple, low-cost changes could make a dramatic improvement to safety. Improvements to junction layouts, signs and road markings and added barriers and speed cameras had reduced accidents by half on some major roads. The study also identified Britain's most improved roads, with at least 20 lives being saved in the past two years.
The best was the A134 from Thetford in Norfolk to the A10, with a 61 per cent decrease in fatal and serious accidents on the 24-mile stretch between 1997-99 and 1999-01.
* The number of speed cameras in Britain has rocketed by more than a fifth in the past year, a research study published yesterday has found.
The numbers of fixed roadside cameras in the North of England grew by nearly 60 per cent, while the overall increase was 22.3 per cent, according to the study by the company that operates the satellite-based Cyclops system, which pinpoints the location of camera sites and warns motorists.
Increasingly sophisticated speed cameras such as laser-based systems now make up more than one in 10 of the total, replacing the familiar grey and yellow roadside box, researchers found.
The organisation estimated that there were about 5,000 speed cameras all over Britain after rapid expansion in the past 12 months.