The dangers for drivers on A-roads away from urban areas have been highlighted in a Road Safety Foundation survey.
The risk to road users is now seven times greater on single carriageway A-roads than motorways, according to the study.
While 99% of motorways are rated in the "'low risk" category, 97% of single carriageway A-roads are not.
The overall risk of death and serious injury on motorways and A-roads is lowest in the West Midlands and highest in the East Midlands, the poll revealed.
The most improved region is the East of England, with a 30% fall in risk.
The survey looked at British motorways and A-roads outside major urban areas. These roads make up 11% of the road network but 51% of road deaths occur on these highways.
The research showed that running off the road accounts for 30% of all deaths on these roads and that junction crashes are the most common accidents leading to serious injury.
The survey also found that:
:: Travel on single carriageways is three times more risky than on dual carriageways;
:: 21% of fatal crashes and serious crashes on non-urban A-roads involve pedestrians or cyclists, with 10% being head-ons and 8% shunts;
:: In the last five years Britain suffered serious crash costs of £1.9 billion on motorways, £8.4 billion on primary A-roads and £5.9 billion on non-primary A-roads;
Road Safety Foundation director Dr Steve Lawson said: "Most recent improvement in road safety has come from car design and safer driving. The specification that authorities currently set road managers is to reduce crash rates in general.
"That approach is too weak and must be replaced, because it muddles factors over which road managers have no control - such as car safety, hospital care and traffic levels - with factors very definitely under their control such as roadside safety barriers or junction layouts."
He went on: "Road managers need not only money, but the tools and goals to measure and manage infrastructure safety. Many proposals in the Government's Action for Roads are sound, but there is need now to focus on improving infrastructure safety itself in a measurable way."
The report was sponsored by motor insurer Ageas.