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North Coast 500 tops list of the UK's most dangerous road trips


By Calum MacLeod

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The We Buy Broken Vans survey does not take into account the severity of the accidents, just the number in total.
The We Buy Broken Vans survey does not take into account the severity of the accidents, just the number in total.

One of Britain's most popular driving routes has been dubbed its most dangerous.

Research from We Buy Broken Vans concluded that the North Coast 500, which begins and ends in Inverness and along the way takes in the spectacular scenery of Ross-shire, Caithness and Sutherland, is the most dangerous of the UK's popular driving routes, with a total of 307 accidents between 2016 and 2020.

Devon to Cornwall was ranked in second place with 133 accidents, followed by Snowdonia with 125.

We Buy Broken Vans collected data from the Department of Transport, including information on Road Safety Data for Accidents from 2016-2020, to draw up a list of the UK's most hazardous driving routes.

These results were added to a data visualisation software, which added the information to a map of the UK.

Using the RAC's recommendation for the start and endpoint of each road trip, they mapped out each road trip to determine which route is the Most Dangerous Road Trip in the UK.

Single-track roads on the North Coast 500 may be a challenge for visiting drivers less used to them. Picture: John Davidson
Single-track roads on the North Coast 500 may be a challenge for visiting drivers less used to them. Picture: John Davidson

However, by dividing the number of accidents by the total distance, the NC500 emerges as one of the UK's safer routes, with the 307 accidents over its 516 mile total length giving it an accident per mile ratio of 0.59, putting the Highland route in ninth spot on the We Buy Broken Vans list of most dangerous routes.

By this measure, Snowdonia emerges as the most dangerous route with a record of 2.5 accidents per mile, and with its appearance in the top three of both lists could be regarded as a better candidate than the NC500 for the dubiopus title of most dangerous route. The Lake District route takes second slot for accidents per mile with 2.4, while the Devon to Cornwall route is third with 1.75 accidents per mile.

The data analysed does not take into account the severity of the accident, but has been released by We Buy Broken Vans to highlight how vital tackling road safety is in the UK.

Dominic Hickman, lead consultant at We Buy Broken Vans, hopes the research does not put people off heading off to experience the UK’s best road trips.

He said: "When we decided to dive into this data, we were looking for key information that would help the UK public while out on the roads in 2022. While these results can be quite sobering, we believe it highlights something incredibly important, especially since more and more people are taking to the roads for their holidays this year.

"We never want to put people off exploring these amazing routes. It’s the complete opposite; these road trips are a true testament to the beauty and diversity that can be found in the UK and something that everyone should have the chance to experience."

One result of the pandemic is an increase in domestic holidays, including UK road trips. In January alone, searches for UK road trips have increased by 142 per cent, and look set to rise even further as we head into spring and restrictions are relaxed across the country.

Mr Hickman added: "We hope this data shows just how important road safety and helps to remind people to stay safe and vigilant while out on UK roads, even they they're out on holiday."

Michael Golding, chief executive of Visit Inverness Loch Ness (VILN), commented: “The pandemic has created challenges for international travel, this has led to an increase in the number of visitors from across the UK. Many domestic visitors have the option of their vehicle and will choose to visit during peak seasons. This creates additional pressure that could not have been foreseen before the pandemic. Our responsibility is to help manage this additional pressure, both by improving our infrastructure and perhaps more importantly, highlighting the benefits of visiting outside of the peak season.

"Affordable prices, authentic experiences and cultural events are just a few of the ways we can encourage a safer more sustainable balance of visitor numbers throughout the year.”


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