Measuring accident risk on rural roads

Road deaths in the UK by road type, 2014

Rural roads account for the majority of motor accident deaths, and yet represent just over 40% of the distance travelled by road users. The diagram shows the statistics by road type for 2014. Detailed statistics are shown here:

Young drivers are at greater risk of death on rural roads than more experienced drivers. A number of factors contribute to this, including:

  • Inappropriate speed
  • Risk taking
  • Poor assessment of hazards
  • Peer pressure from passengers
  • Mobile phone usage
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Night-time driving or poor conditions
  • Older, less-safe vehicles
  • Overtaking blind

In virtually all circumstances, inappropriate speed plays a significant role in the cause of accident. Typical characteristics of young driver accidents include:

  • There are often three or more casualties involved
  • Collisions are often single vehicle so involve no other road user
  • Accidents often occur on bends, particularly on rural roads
  • Vehicles often skid and, in some cases, overturn
  • Vehicles often leave the road and, in many cases, hit a roadside object or enter a ditch

In many instances, these serious accidents occur at speeds below the statutory limit, which is generally 60 mph on minor rural roads.

Assessing driver risk on these most hazardous of roads cannot rely on the speed limit, which is why we have developed the SafeSpeed database:


Using speed distributions to determine accident risk

The statutory speed limit is not an effective measure of accident risk on rural roads.

The photograph shows a typical rural road, with 60 mph speed limit. Telematics data from our fleet customers shows that virtually no professional drivers exceed the speed limit along this stretch of narrow, badly maintained road which has two very sharp bends.

The graph shows a speed distribution for this route from our “SafeSpeed” database. This unique and invaluable tool presents more than one million road speed distributions for the UK road network. The risk of accident increases exponentially as speed increases beyond the mean of all free flowing traffic. This curve is shown on the graph, as are the risk factors applied to each data point. The significant points from this graph are:

  • The statutory speed limit is not an effective measure of accident risk on most rural roads.
  • By using relative speed scoring, speed risk can be properly assessed and young drivers can be encouraged to drive more carefully on rural roads.

The SafeSpeed database from Quartix is a powerful tool for the assessment of accident risk from speeding – particularly on rural roads where the statutory speed limit is of little use.

A detailed explanation and presentation of the SafeSpeed database, together with an explanatory video, are shown here.


Data analysis, alerts and export

With more than 15 years of experience, and over 250,000 vehicle tracking systems installed in the UK, Quartix offers a breadth of reporting and analysis tools which can be used both by brokers and insurers to highlight high-risk driving and behaviour which is not compliant with the terms of the insurance policy. The diagrams show some of the available tools:


Extreme speed events are recorded in accordance with thresholds set out in the policy and are validated by Quartix staff prior to being sent by secure transmission to the insurer for relevant action.

Alerts can also be set for excessive or unusual usage, excessive night-time driving, excessive mileage, or discrepancies between stated use and actual usage, i.e. if the vehicle is never taken to the registered home location.

Data Export

For those insurers requiring raw data for analysis purposes, Quartix offers secure data transfer by either of the following means:

  • QWS – Quartix Web Services provide secure, encrypted access, with user authentication, to a full range of vehicle journey and driving style data.
  • File export – Full raw data for each vehicle event can be transferred in an agreed file format, using SFTP or other secure transfer mechanism.
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