Time to act over killer A41 after shocking number of deaths and injuries is revealed

Urgent calls have been made to improve safety on one of the county’s most dangerous roads after figures revealed the shocking number of deaths and injuries.

Rob Gittins of Shropshire Council, Kevin Sutherland of Hinstock parish and Peter Waters of Stoke-on-Tern parish are among those calling for action
Rob Gittins of Shropshire Council, Kevin Sutherland of Hinstock parish and Peter Waters of Stoke-on-Tern parish are among those calling for action

Since the start of 2017 there have been more than 190 crashes where people were killed or injured on the A41 between Cosford and Whitchurch.

The road has been the subject of concern for a number of years, with campaign groups pressing for action to improve the safety record of the route – from Newport, through to Hinstock, Tern Hill, Market Drayton, and Whitchurch.

West Mercia Police’s Road Safety Partnership said that analysis of the crash records for the county show that eight people have died on the road, 56 have been seriously injured, and 127 have received slight injuries in the last five years.

Only last month a group of Shropshire councillors passed a motion calling for a number of measures to improve safety along the road – including average speed cameras, a review of dangerous junctions, and improved signage. Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard has also been campaigning for improvements.

While the statistics alone make for sobering reading, residents have also been vocal over their concerns, with some capturing the terrifying experiences on the route on dashcam.

Shocking footage from one resident shows a van performing a mindless overtaking manoeuvre at Hinstock.

A van overtaking comes within milliseconds of a head on collision as it crosses into the oncoming lane and squeezes back in, incredibly avoiding tragedy.

The incident is illustrative of concerns repeatedly raised by councillors, about frustrated drivers taking potentially dangerous risks to overtake.

West Mercia Police and the region’s crime commissioner John Campion have both said that improvements to safety measures for the route are under consideration.

Councillor Rob Gittins, one of those who was behind the Shropshire Council motion, said that average speed cameras would make people think twice about their driving on the route.

He has demanded urgent action to ensure tangible safety measures are put in place that may prevent the next tragedy from happening. The Cheswardine councillor, who regularly drives the road, said: “The A41 is essentially a major trunk road between Birmingham and Liverpool and we are seeing more and more HGVs on the roads and they are restricted to a certain speed limit.

“Around this time of year you have also got more agricultural vehicles on that road and what it is almost doing is encouraging bad driving.

“You get drivers that are frustrated at being kept behind a HGV, for example. That frustration builds and they make a judgment call on whether they should be overtaking that HGV or lorry and they end up overtaking in very bad or unsafe places.

The A41 at Tern Hill, where the 40 sign has had to have a sticker put over the top of it

“I have seen plenty of times where drivers become so frustrated that they are essentially overtaking on blind corners.

“I think people would think twice about overtaking when they know there are average speed cameras about. It would force them to think ‘is it worth six points or three points’ on their licence just to go speeding past a line of traffic.”

Mark Pritchard MP for the Wrekin said that while cameras are not the only way of making the route safer, they could play a vital part.

He said: “I have been working with local councillors over a long period in asking the Police and Crime Commissioner to use some of his budget to introduce average speed cameras on the A41.

“Cameras are not the entire solution but hopefully will help reduce deaths and injuries.

“I am grateful to the support of local parish and town councils for their campaigning too.”

Councillor Dean Carroll is Shropshire Council’s cabinet member in charge of highways, and also his party’s spokesman on North Shropshire – the constituency which is hope to large sections of the route.

He said that it was time to get to grips with the risks posed by the road and that the time for talking was over.

He said: “The A41 is a really dangerous stretch of road, even by national standards.

“I have heard so many people talking about their experiences on the A41 and that is without the huge number of accidents there have been on there over the last few years.

“So I believe we really need to take action now – to try and stop anyone else having to go through the awful experience that all too many families have had in the last few years, of losing loved ones on the A41.

“I completely and totally support the call for average speed cameras on the A41. You can see from the strength of feeling at the council meeting in July, and the support that local members’ motion for road safety improvements on the A41 garnered, and the support in the debate, you can see how widely it has affected people across the county and how passionate people are in Shropshire to make it a focus.

“The focus has to be on improving road safety in the areas and now. The first step is bringing speeding traffic under control and the best method I think to do that is average speed cameras.”

Telford & Wrekin Councillor, Andrew Eade, has also backed the call, saying: “It is as plain as a pike staff that urgent action is needed along the A41 as it passes through Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire Council’s borders.

“We have recently witnessed three horrendous accidents at Cock Hollow, a notorious bend and dip in the road, together with a straight piece of road at the entrance to Woodcote Nursing home.

“I have already arranged for council officers to record the speed and volume of traffic and gather historical data from the Police on this particular stretch of the A41 and will shortly be meeting on site with highways officers to determine what measures can and will be put in place.

“It is very clear to me that speed is a contributing factor in the appalling accident statistics along this nightmare stretch of road, and will welcome any measures that improve safety for residents and motorists alike.”

There have been more than 190 crashes where people were killed or injured along the road in less than six years

Inspector Gavin Williams from West Mercia Police said: “Reducing collisions and casualties on the roads remains a year-round commitment for West Mercia Police, and we are working alongside our local authority partners to review safety measures along the A41 and identify potential improvements.

“Speed enforcement continues to take place on the A41 and we will be increasing our presence along this route.

“In addition to this, officers from the Roads Policing Unit and Police Motorcycle Traffic Support Team proactively seek to make our roads safer by using intelligence to reduce offending on our roads and carrying out regular targeted enforcement.

“Keeping all our communities safe is one of the force’s organisational priorities and road safety remains a key focus, through targeted education, engineering and enforcement activity.

“Everything we do is informed by collision and casualty data.

“We will continue to review the data and work with our partners and local communities to make our roads safer.”

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