Shropshire Star

Reducing danger on A41 must be number one priority - too many families have lost loved ones

North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan is one of those calling for improvements to the A41. Writing for the Shropshire Star, she says the need for action is clear.

Helen Morgan MP

All of us who use the A41 know that it needs to be made safer. Too many families have lost loved ones because of crashes along this road.

It is an issue that is always brought up with me at surgeries, in my inbox and of course when I visit people in Whitchurch, Market Drayton and the surrounding areas.

Last month several crashes, including one extremely serious incident near Drayton which left a driver and young passenger seriously injured. Collisions are awful for all of those involved and add extra pressure on our already-stretched emergency services.

Indeed official data shows that it is one of two roads in North Shropshire where the majority of serious crashes are concentrated, with the other being the A5.

The need for action is clear – and it is particularly acute because North Shropshire remains an area that is almost entirely reliant on cars.

Here we suffer from some of the worst transport infrastructure in the country and anyone heading north towards Chester and Liverpool or down to Wolverhampton is almost definitely going to use the A41.

We drastically need investment in rail and bus services but while people are forced to travel by car, they should be able to do so safely. People who live and work next to the road should also be able to walk out of their front door without fearing for themselves.

Of course it’s not just cars that use the A41. It’s also a key route for lorries, it’s popular with bikers and is regularly used by tractors travelling between fields.

I often receive complaints regarding traffic, noise and potholes, which are all also important issues.

A slow-moving road clogs up the economy and costs us money, noise is a nuisance and damages our health, and potholes exacerbate both of these problems while making the road even more dangerous.

It is reducing this danger that must be the number one priority and to do so the council, Government, residents and local MPs like me will need to cooperate.

Experts must be consulted on how effective potential solutions will be but cameras and signage seem two obvious areas to start with.

Where there is no enforcement, many drivers will always be tempted to speed. While cameras often provoke anger from frustrated motorists, they can be effective at reducing speed. Average speed cameras have the advantage of covering longer stretches of roads and calming traffic for longer.

The nature of the A41’s largely single carriageway and rural setting means that those who do break the law by driving too fast or overtaking dangerously rarely actually arrive more than a few seconds earlier than anyone else. The biggest change is the size of the risk they create – and this is a message that must be reinforced.

Effective signage can help. This means clearly and simply warning drivers of the dangers and stressing how many crashes have taken place and clear but also ensuring existing signs are visible.

Any campaign to reduce speed will be undermined if signs are not maintained or hidden behind trees and bushes.

Every driver has a part to play as the reality is that as many people speed regularly as don’t.

Anyone who finds themselves frustrated by the slow pace of the A41 should think of the many families who have lost sons and daughters on the same stretch of road.

It may be a cliché but arriving alive is more important than anything else.

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