Highways England have announced an ambitious new goal of reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads by 40 per cent: within the next five years.

The goal is considered a stepping stone towards a more long-term strategy designed to bring the number of casualties down to zero on motorways and A-roads by 2040.

Highways England replaced the Highways Agency in April, and is currently responsible for managing and maintaining 4,300 miles of arterial routes across the UK. This current accounts for only 2 per cent of the UK's traffic. However, it carries one-third of the total traffic in the UK, and is used by four million drivers each day.

The body has made safety its number one priority since taking over the contract, said Heather Lang, the central on-road manager for the body:

'Our aim by 2020 is to reduce [the number of people] killed and seriously injured by 40%.'

'That still means 1,393 people will be killed or seriously injured on the Strategic Road Network, and that's 1,393ætoo many.'

Highways England is expected to publishing its strategy on achieving the challenging target, with the document to be named Driving Forward Safely.

It's believed that greater use of the hard shoulder as an active lane will be included in the plan, following a successful trial of the tactic on the M42.

Whilst conceding that such solutions would be unlikely to control simply human error, Ms Lang highlighted that the M42 trial had indeed helped to reduce the number of incidents occurring.

Highways England is currently charged with delivering £4 of value to the UK from every £1 of it's £7.7bn budget. It also has a commitment to clearing 85 per cent of motorway incidents within an hour in order to try and minimise congestion.