It comes as more civils firms are enjoying improved safety performance during the coronavirus crisis which has thrown the spotlight onto safer site working.
Part of the safety crackdown across the road network involves a fresh focus on eradicating utility strikes.
Contractors are being told to adopt a new set of common standards, which involves investment in greater data capture and more focus on designs that avoid the need to work over/under/adjacent to live utilities.
Highways England commercial director Malcolm Dare has written to the supply chain setting out the new AFR target.
He said: “Due to C-19 many suppliers are seeing improved safety performance, we must look to build on this and improve on where we are today.
“We want everyone to get home safe and well, including anyone working on our roads, and that is why we’ve set the target for every supplier to halve their AFR over the next 12 months.
“Please ensure that you have plans to achieve this and that these plans also cover your lower tier suppliers in order to embed the required cultural, leadership and physical changes.”