Our independent columnist Observer says road safety education has failed and it is time to properly engineer safer roads in Wealden to cut the toll of crashes.
Just why is Wealden one of the most dangerous places to drive in the whole of the UK?
Many efforts have been made in the last few years to make the district’s roads safer but they are having little lasting effect.
Figures published this week from Uckfield Fire Station show fire crews were called to twice as many road crashes in the past year, despite efforts and education and information.
In my view, many roads in Wealden and East Sussex are totally unsuitable for the traffic they have to carry each day.
Seven miles of dual carriageway
It is worth noting that Wealden is the largest district in East Sussex with 847 miles of road.
Only seven of those miles are dual carriageways, which statistically are much safer than single carriageway roads.
Many of the single carriageway roads have a 60mph speed limit which in reality is ridiculous. They are hardly fit to drive at 40mph – and I include much of the A22 and the A26 in that remark.
‘Meat in the sandwich’
And don’t get me started about the East Hoathly and Maresfield by-passes which, due to their width encourage drivers to overtake in the face of on-coming traffic and become the “meat in the sandwich”; which is a dreadful place for any driver to be.
Speed limits have been reduced in recent years. The A26 through Herons Ghyll, a notorious blackspot, and further on through Rose Hill are good examples.
Some drivers will also temper their speed to the state of the roads and prevailing conditions, leading some of those behind to become frustrated.
A whole series of speed limits on an A road, slower drivers and inevitable lorries leads to a “pedal to the metal” attitude from a minority. They will blast past – sometimes with catastrophic results.
The strategy of education and information is not working. It’s cheap but ineffective so the local authority leaders should stop backing the wrong horse.
Three things need to happen.
ONE is a step change in public transport which is poor and getting worse.
- Bus services continue to be pared back, leaving many people isolated or forced to take the car.
- The failure to reinstate the railway line to Lewes means thousands of people head south from Uckfield in cars each week bound for Lewes and Brighton.
The SECOND step is to put in some real engineering solutions to the roads.
- East Sussex County Council rather favours painting white lines to try and manage the traffic. Those lines fade and disappear and perfectly illustrate a penny-pinching attitude to road safety.
- Many of the side roads in Wealden should have a 50mph speed limit, if not 40mph and
- Wealden and East Sussex as a whole need more dual carriageways.
THIRDLY, Enforcement. If you are 95 per cent certain of being caught, you will slow down. Traffic police have largely vanished from our roads, just as they have from the streets of Uckfield.
Of course, all that costs but then deaths and injuries cost.
*Evidence produced by an independent research company – Road Safety Analysis – places the roads in Wealden as the fifth most dangerous district in Britain for young drivers. (source, Wealden District Council).
ROADWORKS: All quiet on the western front. Traffic is flowing, there are car parking spaces . . . the much prophesised Armageddon didn’t happen.
However, it appears people may have listened to the predictions of doom and gridlock and stayed away from the shops.
Shops must promote their businesses
There has been a bit of “cutting your nose off to spite your face” in some quarters which does no good at all.
Shop owners should be plotting this weekend on the deals and promotions THEY WILL BE DOING to attract customers.
Anything done by the town council and chamber of commerce to promote trade should be the icing on the cake. I implore our shops to take heed of the message of “don’t depend on others for things you can well do yourself”.
Finally, well done to the chamber of commerce for getting a blanket 15 per cent cut in business rates for affected High Street businesses. Positive action – with a positive effect.