Road design

Main articles: Highway engineering and Road safety

A 1985 US study showed that about 34% of serious crashes had contributing factors related to the roadway or its environment. Most of these crashes also involved a human factor.[12] The road or environmental factor was either noted as making a significant contribution to the circumstances of the crash, or did not allow room to recover. In these circumstances it is frequently the driver who is blamed rather than the road; those reporting the accident have a tendency to overlook the human factors involved, such as the subtleties of design and maintenance that a driver could fail to observe or adequately compensate for.[36]
A potential long fall stopped by an early guardrail
 ca. 1920. Guardrails, median barriers,
or other physical objects can help reduce
 the consequences of an accident or minimize damage.

Research has shown that careful design and maintenance, with well-designed intersections, road surfaces, visibility and traffic control devices, can result in significant improvements in accident rates.

Individual roads also have widely differing performance in the event of an impact. In Europe there are now EuroRAP tests that indicate how "self-explaining" and forgiving a particular road and its roadside would be in the event of a major incident.

In the UK, research has shown that investment in a safe road infrastructure program could yield a ⅓ reduction in road deaths, saving as much as £6 billion per year.[37] A consortium of 13 major road safety stakeholders have formed the Campaign for Safe Road Design, which is calling on the UK Government to make safe road design a national transport priority.