A937/A4128 Britain's Killer Roads


A937/A4128

Joe Crowley looks at the UK's most dangerous roads and asks how we can make them safer. Joe is in Scotland to see the A937 and its deadly junction with the A90.


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Transcript


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Last year, almost 1,900 people were killed on Britain's roads.

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It was just like the end of your world.

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And it's not always the motorists that are to blame.

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She would have been alive if there had been barriers there.

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Today, we expose these killer roads and ask

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if enough is being done to prevent more needless deaths.

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To stop any other mum or dad walking into a hospital

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and having to identify their son.

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Welcome to East Scotland.

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Those glorious foothills behind me mark the start of the Highlands

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and linking this area to the North Sea is this road here - the A937.

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It's a relatively minor A road, but it has recently been blacklisted,

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making it one of the most high risk roads in Britain.

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Collisions have occurred up and down the length of this road,

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but one spot in particular has locals up in arms.

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That's where the road crosses one of Scotland's major dual carriageways,

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which you can see there,

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just beyond those trees.

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90 miles north of Edinburgh on the edge of Aberdeenshire,

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the A937 is an important eight mile link between the coastal town

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of Montrose and the A90 dual carriageway.

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And it's where the two roads meet, next to the village

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of Laurencekirk, which has become the focal point of local anger.

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In the last ten years,

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the A937 and the A90 junction have witnessed 82 accidents

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resulting in injury, including 19 serious injuries and seven deaths.

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I'm going to be meeting some of the people most affected

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by the nightmare junction

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and those who've tried hard to get improvements made to it.

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But first, to get there, I'm taking a drive up the notorious A937.

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OK, so here we are. This is my first time driving the A937.

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The first thing you notice is that it is quite a small road,

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maybe a little bit smaller than you expect.

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The road has been patched up in parts, particularly the edges.

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A few potholes there.

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I'm on my way to check out the A937's junction with the A90,

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a crossroads that has been inciting local anger for the past decade.

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But the A937 is also a problem road in its own right.

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The Road Safety Foundation has recently given this road

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a black rating, the highest risk category of all.

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Just up here around this corner is sadly where there was

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a head-on collision.

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A nine-year-old girl was killed. It was in the morning.

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She was on her way to school.

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Her mother and sister survived,

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but sadly, this nine-year-old girl was killed outright at the scene.

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That was back in 2007.

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Thankfully, the local council have now carried out resurfacing work

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that's greatly improved this particular problem stretch.

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Now, just a bit further down the road is the point on

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the A937 that's created most of the headlines.

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The notorious junction with the A90.

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I'm not going to head onto the junction just yet.

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First, I'm going to go and see a local man who tragically has

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more reason than most to speak out about this particular crossroads.

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In 2004, Jim Graham lost his 20-year-old son Jamie in a fatal

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car crash at the Laurencekirk crossroads.

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And to respect Jim's wishes, I've agreed to meet him

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well away from the junction in question.

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Jim, thank you for agreeing to talk to me today.

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I know it's not an easy subject. What happened that evening?

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What were the circumstances of Jamie's crash?

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Jamie was actually in Montrose with my other son, Scott.

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They were travelling home.

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The roads were busy and there had been torrential rain that...

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that evening as well.

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Apparently, there was a lorry coming south, kicking up a lot of spray

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and behind that lorry was a car

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that Jamie didn't see, obviously because of the spray.

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He made an attempt to cross the road and was struck by the car.

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Jamie had been caught out by one of the key problems

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at the A90 junction.

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For people crossing the dual carriageway,

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there can be a blind spot when a large approaching vehicle

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in one lane can block the sight of another vehicle in the other lane.

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Jamie's car was hit at speed on the driver's side

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and ended up on its roof in the central reservation.

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I had this strangest feeling around about that time

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and I tried to telephone Jamie

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to make sure he was OK.

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-You were at home here?

-I was here, in the house. There was no answer.

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And I thought, this isn't right.

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It was going through my head that something serious had happened.

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So I jumped in my car and headed up to the junction

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and a police officer came across to me and said, "Who are you?"

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I said, "Mr Graham."

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At that, his attitude seemed to change and I said, "You don't

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"have to say anything because I know something has happened."

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The sergeant said to me, "Would you like to see your son?"

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I said, "Yes, I would like to see him."

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So I went into the ambulance

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and he was lying there as though he was sleeping with just a tiny

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line of blood coming from his ear.

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-There was nothing...?

-He just looked as if he was sleeping.

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It was internal injuries that killed him. Massive internal injuries.

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Haemorrhage.

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And my heart just sunk.

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And then, the sergeant said to me,

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"Would you like us to inform your wife?"

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I said, "No, I'll do that myself."

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And I'll always remember the look on her face that day with the news

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that I passed on to her.

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I keep seeing the car all the time.

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And seeing Jamie and seeing the scene over and over in my mind.

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Sadly, Jamie Graham's crash in 2004 was not an isolated incident.

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In fact, it was part of a grim period at the Laurencekirk junction

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in which four people were killed in as many years.

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In 2001, two people died here in one accident,

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witnessed by Montrose resident Liz Sutherland.

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It was a Saturday lunchtime about 12 o'clock. I followed two ladies driving

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and I didn't question their driving whatsoever.

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Unfortunately, the lady pulled out

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and she was hit at 70 miles an hour by a 4x4.

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I was first on the scene, ran into the road, basically,

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stopped the rest of the traffic coming.

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I didn't know where the rest of the traffic was going to end up

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and I had two children in the car at the time.

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I dialled 999,

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got the emergency services there as quickly as possible.

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Reassured the lady driver.

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I wasn't sure if she could hear me, but by touching,

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I reassured her that there was somebody there and help was on its way.

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She was unconscious at that time.

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Unfortunately, there was another lady that had been thrown forward

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and she was lying in the footwell inside the car with the impact.

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One died at the scene and from what I can remember,

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the other one died on the way to hospital.

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Ten accidents resulting in injury, six serious injuries

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and four deaths in five years -

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clearly, the residents of Laurencekirk

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live alongside a constant threat.

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The people in the Laurencekirk area, a lot of them,

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they prefer not to use that junction at all.

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By virtue of the fact that you're crossing four lanes of traffic,

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it's fundamentally unsafe.

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I'm surprised there aren't more accidents,

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due to the way that the junction's laid out.

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It's terrible. Awful junction.

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People doubling up beside you - two, three, four cars at a time.

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And it's just not safe. It's just not safe. I don't use that junction.

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I avoid it as much as I possibly can.

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It seriously needs to be looked at before somebody else's life is lost.

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Amazingly, in a 50 mile stretch,

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the A937 is the only A road to cross the dual carriageway without

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the help of a motorway-style graded junction.

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For instance, just south of Laurencekirk, near Forfar,

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there are two junctions which have received

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the full treatment of slip roads, an underpass and a flyover.

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Work on these two junctions was completed in 2003.

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But eight years later,

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there is still no plan to build anything similar at Laurencekirk.

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Of course, to fully appreciate the local outrage here,

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I've got to experience the junction for myself.

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To do that, I've come here to the village of Laurencekirk,

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which lies just alongside the A90, to meet a lady who's ideally

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qualified to guide me through it.

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Julie Watson is a Laurencekirk resident.

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-Hi, Julie!

-Hi there, Drew, how are you?

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And with 12 years' experience as a driving instructor here,

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she knows the local roads better than most.

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Julie, this is our car.

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-Before we jump in, this is supposed to be a very dangerous junction.

-Yes, it is.

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Did you just completely avoid it when you were teaching?

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No, I didn't avoid it when I was teaching.

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I prefer to take pupils up to the junction.

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If they want to go to Montrose, it's the nearest junction.

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But it is dangerous. There's a lot to look out for.

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OK, I'm going to have you guiding me through it - a qualified lady!

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-So you go and jump in your side.

-OK.

-Let's get going.

-OK.

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OK, so if you look to your right, you'll see the traffic.

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What you've got to remember is, even though this is a 50,

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it's just temporary.

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There's an amount of people that don't sit at the speed limit.

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If you look to your right, you've got a yellow van coming in.

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You watch what's going to happen when that yellow van comes in.

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-Can you see that bus behind?

-No, I've lost the bus.

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-Suddenly, I see a bus coming down fast.

-Yes! And a lorry.

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But before you even think about moving into the central reservation,

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look left,

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because you're going to have traffic turning right into here as well.

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-He's coming across.

-So he's got priority.

-OK.

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And then you've got a large lorry which is coming up to overtake.

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-This isn't a quick process!

-No.

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You have to really be patient here.

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And then you've got that silver car in the centre - you don't know

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whether it's coming into the slip road or

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if it's joining the dual carriageway.

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-Too late.

-Then you've got a red car that's just coming...

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-So again, it's blinding your view of all traffic coming.

-Yeah, it is.

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I can see anything behind it.

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There probably wasn't, I could've gone, but there wasn't enough time.

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But then again, you need your eyes in all sorts of places here.

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You've got a black car joining the dual carriageway

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in the overtaking lane, which is not really supposed to happen.

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But this is what happens. I think you've got a gap coming up here.

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It looks good from that way. I can probably get in to the central reservation.

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-Keep your vehicle straight.

-Straight!

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-How many cars of you got behind you?

-One. With a trailer.

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-Yes, and he'll probably come and join you.

-Oh, right.

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He's either going to join you on the left or he's going to sit on your right.

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-This is a gap, isn't it?

-Yep.

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-All the way across into this lane and indicate.

-There you go. Well done.

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Now, how long did that take you?

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-It did take a little while and this isn't rush-hour.

-Exactly.

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We had to take our time

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and I did notice there was someone waiting behind me.

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-He was thankfully very patient.

-Did he put pressure on you?

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He didn't, but I could almost start to... I'm just a polite, nice guy!

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I could feel the pressure building.

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Can you imagine if you had three, four, ten cars behind you?

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And you're sitting there waiting.

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There's nothing you can do.

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And unlike most people who have to use this junction,

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we are now turning round and heading straight back to Laurencekirk.

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And this time, there's a car in front or two cars in front.

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-Two cars. And possibly a learner.

-Oh, yeah.

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I feel like a learner today, with a driving instructor next to me.

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A new experience!

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Right, so this is the point where we try not to pressure anyone else.

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-Just sit tight.

-Yes, and don't get too close.

-Give her time.

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So, what is she feeling?

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In that car in front of us, she's probably a learner,

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she's got someone with her.

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How scary was this for a learner when you were taking people on this?

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Probably terrified. Absolutely terrified.

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She's scared that she's going to stall,

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she's scared she's not going to see something, that she misses something,

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so yeah, she probably won't even have time to blink.

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That's how bad it can be here.

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-Off she goes!

-She's done it! Well done. Yes. That was good.

-Good going.

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-But it did take a while. That took at least a minute.

-Yes.

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If you're in a hurry, you can't be in a hurry.

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Again, he's blocking my view.

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-This one's changing lanes very late.

-That's it.

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-That was messy.

-That was.

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-It's already been about a minute for us, hasn't it?

-Yes.

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-But then now look in your mirror.

-Oh! I don't want to look in my mirror!

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Let's pretend they aren't waiting!

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-I was looking in my mirror so I know exactly how many are there!

-I like your little mirror!

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-There's your gap.

-Yep, look the other way. I think I'm OK. Here we go.

-Good.

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A minute and a half later, we're into the middle.

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-Can you see past me OK?

-I can see past you OK.

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-You've got a red car just on your...

-He just snuck up there!

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And he's giving me nasty looks.

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Yes, because he's looking at you as if you're in the wrong.

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-And I give way here.

-You have to give way.

-All fine.

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I found that mildly stressful,

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especially with that other car cutting inside at the last minute.

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And the way he looked at you as well, as if you were in the wrong!

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-Yeah! He wasn't the politest.

-No!

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Thank you. That was a very eye-opening experience

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and it made a difference having you here.

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Good. I'm glad.

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There is no doubt - the A937's crossing with the A90

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is a thoroughly intimidating junction.

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But to get an independent assessment on the state of the junction,

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we showed footage of my driving lesson to John Dawson,

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a road engineer with over 35 years of experience of British roads.

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As a former chief engineer of Scottish roads and current chair

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of the European Road Assessment Programme, John is ideally placed to comment.

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The horror about the A937 is of course that junction with

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the A90, which really was pretty frightening.

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There can't be many major junctions left which are laid out

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like that in Britain. There will be deaths

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and serious injuries at a junction laid out like this.

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Whether they come in a bunch in year seven or

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whether they come spread out over a couple of years is just

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a matter of good fortune or bad fortune.

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Most countries, most places,

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that sort of junction really isn't acceptable.

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You're talking about a driver having first of all to judge a gap

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and cross two lanes of fast-moving traffic

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and then brake to a halt in the centre of the road

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and do the same thing all over again on the other side.

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And it really is not safe, because one slip and quite literally,

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you're dead and the person coming the other way who hit you is also dead.

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And the death rate at these junctions is well known,

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well understood and they need to be eliminated.

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So just who is responsible for this junction and why is it

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largely unaltered since Jamie Graham died here over seven years ago?

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In truth, it's slightly complicated.

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The A937

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just here is the responsibility of Aberdeenshire Council.

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Whereas the A90 just there is one of the country's premier

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trunk roads and so falls under the jurisdiction of Transport Scotland.

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Any work carried out on this junction would have to be

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paid for by Transport Scotland.

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Naturally, therefore, we wanted to speak to them.

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Unfortunately, they told us no one was available to comment on camera.

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Disappointing. However, there is one lady who will speak to me on camera.

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She's made herself very well known with all the local organisations round here

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in campaigning for this junction to be dramatically re-engineered.

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Jill, how did you get involved in this? Why did you start the campaign?

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Back in 2004, I was running a flower shop in Laurencekirk

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and there was an accident at the junction.

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And a young man, Jamie Graham, was killed.

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And a few days after that, some of his family came in to get

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flowers to put up at the crash site and it was seeing his brother

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and sisters, just the devastation in their faces.

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Just young people, and they shouldn't know pain like that.

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It was just seeing them.

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I just got so, so angry that yet another life had been lost

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and nothing was being done about it. So I just thought, start a petition.

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So how big did it get?

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We collected 6,700 signatures in the space of six weeks.

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You voiced something that people felt very strongly about.

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Suddenly you realise just how much strength of feeling there was.

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Well, we're all angry.

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Every time we heard of another accident there,

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we heard the fire engines going up the high street,

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everybody's thoughts just go, it's the junction.

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-Somebody's been hurt, somebody's been killed. Who is it?

-And what was the response?

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Just how seriously did the authorities take it?

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They actually did listen.

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Nicol Stephen was Transport Minister at the time

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and I did get to speak to him.

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He did say to us that he recognised

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that there was a real need for something to be done here.

0:18:130:18:17

And he said that the ultimate goal for the junction was a flyover.

0:18:170:18:23

But that was going to take a minimum of three years to put in place,

0:18:230:18:28

so they had to do something fast

0:18:280:18:30

and the fastest solution was to reduce the speed limit.

0:18:300:18:33

Talk me through the temporary measures.

0:18:330:18:35

What was introduced?

0:18:350:18:37

The speed limit was reduced at the junction point

0:18:370:18:40

on the A90 to 50 miles an hour.

0:18:400:18:42

There was extra signage put in place and that sort of thing.

0:18:420:18:47

So, nothing to change the slip roads

0:18:470:18:50

or the waiting point in the middle, nothing like that?

0:18:500:18:52

-Nothing like that at all.

-OK.

0:18:520:18:54

But then we were led to believe that that would be a temporary measure.

0:18:540:18:59

-So how long ago was that now?

-That was six years ago.

-Six years ago.

0:18:590:19:05

And the temporary measure has become very permanent.

0:19:050:19:08

We'll pick up more about the A937 later

0:19:080:19:10

and hear what Transport Scotland have to say.

0:19:100:19:14

Clearly, local campaigners here still feel that more needs to

0:19:140:19:17

be done to make the Laurencekirk junction safer.

0:19:170:19:21

But so far, no action.

0:19:210:19:22

However, in other parts of the country,

0:19:220:19:24

notorious and deadly stretches of road have undergone extensive

0:19:240:19:28

safety improvements and the dramatic results speak for themselves.

0:19:280:19:33

Nestled in the heart of Buckinghamshire is the A4128,

0:19:370:19:41

nearly seven miles of single carriageway A road

0:19:410:19:44

that runs from High Wycombe to Great Missenden.

0:19:440:19:47

On one stretch of it,

0:19:470:19:49

local campaigners have successfully petitioned for change

0:19:490:19:52

and seen the road around a problem junction made dramatically safer.

0:19:520:19:56

So much so, that this road was recently proclaimed

0:19:570:20:00

as the country's most improved.

0:20:000:20:02

As soon as I got down here,

0:20:030:20:05

I realised just how dreadful a scene it was, the carnage was unbelievable.

0:20:050:20:10

I had to take their funeral here in church,

0:20:100:20:13

and they were local villagers, they were well known to people.

0:20:130:20:16

Between 2000 and 2006, the A4128 saw 42 accidents

0:20:170:20:22

resulting in injury, including 12 serious injuries and five deaths.

0:20:220:20:28

18-year-old Liam Logue tragically lost his life

0:20:280:20:31

when his car collided with another vehicle in June 2005.

0:20:310:20:35

I remember it like it was yesterday.

0:20:370:20:39

I was just going to bed and there was a horrible knock on the door.

0:20:390:20:44

I opened the door and there was a policeman standing there...

0:20:440:20:48

..and he asked me if this was the house where Liam lived,

0:20:500:20:56

and he asked me if I was Liam's mum,

0:20:560:21:00

and I said yes.

0:21:000:21:02

And, obviously, at that time of night,

0:21:020:21:04

when there's a policeman standing at the door, you kind of...

0:21:040:21:08

..I didn't necessarily think the worst,

0:21:100:21:12

but I obviously knew something serious had happened,

0:21:120:21:15

and I wanted to know what had happened.

0:21:150:21:17

He... I said, "What's happened? What's wrong?"

0:21:200:21:24

And he said, "You've lost him."

0:21:260:21:28

Liam had been at Hughenden Park for the afternoon

0:21:330:21:36

with his girlfriend and friends.

0:21:360:21:38

When it came time to come home,

0:21:380:21:40

Bryony turned one way out of Hughenden car park to go home,

0:21:400:21:47

Liam turned the other way along the road...

0:21:470:21:52

..and probably 20 seconds later had his accident.

0:21:540:21:59

He was driving within the speed limit -

0:22:030:22:06

I think from the investgations that were done,

0:22:060:22:11

he was probably going about 40 mph or something -

0:22:110:22:14

maybe a bit more than that, but certainly not any great speed.

0:22:140:22:19

Liam lost control of his car on a bend,

0:22:190:22:21

skidded sideways into the oncoming lane

0:22:210:22:24

and was hit by a car going the other way.

0:22:240:22:26

He died in hospital from his injuries,

0:22:260:22:29

leaving behind two younger brothers and an elder sister.

0:22:290:22:32

I think about him every day.

0:22:320:22:34

Amy has a baby now,

0:22:360:22:40

so she's very sad that he's not here to see his niece.

0:22:400:22:46

When Chris and Dan were learning to drive,

0:22:490:22:52

it was very, very difficult to let them learn to drive,

0:22:520:22:58

because I didn't want the same thing to happen to them.

0:22:580:23:01

So you look forward to family events because you get together

0:23:010:23:05

and see everybody, but then there's always somebody missing,

0:23:050:23:08

so it's a bit sad.

0:23:080:23:09

Liam Logue's death was the fourth to occur at this spot in seven years.

0:23:090:23:14

At the time of his accident, a safety review of the A4128

0:23:140:23:18

by Buckinghamshire County Council was already underway.

0:23:180:23:22

Local resident Dory Morgan was used to hearing about deaths

0:23:220:23:25

and serious injuries on the A4128.

0:23:250:23:28

For over 20 years, she'd been calling for something to be done about the road.

0:23:280:23:34

The A4128 in particular has always been a concern to us.

0:23:340:23:37

The part of it that's really been of concern is the piece outside

0:23:370:23:41

the manor and just either side of it.

0:23:410:23:44

We've had a significant number of accidents there, including deaths

0:23:440:23:47

and lots of near misses,

0:23:470:23:49

and we felt that there was something considerably wrong with that

0:23:490:23:52

particular stretch of road and we wanted to do something about it.

0:23:520:23:55

When I first moved here, there seemed to be numerous accidents,

0:23:550:23:58

things were happening, people were crashing their cars.

0:23:580:24:01

We've had fences knocked down at the bottom of the road.

0:24:010:24:04

We've had fatalities as well, and sadly an elderly couple driving

0:24:040:24:08

to Wycombe, I think, on a Saturday morning, were killed by a driver

0:24:080:24:12

coming the other way who missed the bend,

0:24:120:24:15

and I had to take their funeral here in church.

0:24:150:24:18

Dory and other local campaigners

0:24:180:24:20

could see that on the stretch outside Hughenden Manor,

0:24:200:24:23

the speed limit was too high,

0:24:230:24:24

the bends weren't clearly marked, and visibility was poor.

0:24:240:24:29

But it was the shocking death of fellow residents

0:24:290:24:31

Bernard and Vera Poole in a head-on accident in 2003

0:24:310:24:36

that would galvanise the local community into action.

0:24:360:24:39

It was a Saturday, it was June 21, it was a nice sunny day.

0:24:390:24:43

My husband and I were here with our sheep shearer, who comes every year,

0:24:430:24:48

and we were halfway through shearing sheep when we all heard this

0:24:480:24:52

almighty bang and of course being in a valley it echoed around the hills.

0:24:520:24:56

I was able to leave the shearer and my husband with the sheep

0:24:560:25:00

and dash down to the road to see what I could do to assist.

0:25:000:25:04

As soon as I got down here I realised just how dreadful a scene it was,

0:25:050:25:10

the carnage was unbelievable.

0:25:100:25:12

The car on the other side in a real state, people trapped in it,

0:25:120:25:16

another one on this side.

0:25:160:25:18

There were plenty of people here taking care of the injured,

0:25:180:25:21

and so the next priority was to make sure that the road was safe,

0:25:210:25:24

so I went along the other side of the entrance with Edie,

0:25:240:25:27

who lives in a property here, to keep the traffic calm,

0:25:270:25:30

to control the traffic, and to make sure there weren't any further casualties

0:25:300:25:35

until the emergency services arrived.

0:25:350:25:37

Pensioners Bernard and Vera,

0:25:370:25:39

who'd recently celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary,

0:25:390:25:42

were both killed in the accident.

0:25:420:25:44

We just couldn't believe it, it felt unreal,

0:25:440:25:47

particularly as they were quite prominent members of the village,

0:25:470:25:51

and they'd taken part in activities just the week before.

0:25:510:25:55

To suddenly find that they weren't with us...

0:25:550:25:58

it was quite a subdued village.

0:25:580:26:00

The residents' association decided that we needed to up our action,

0:26:000:26:04

that we needed to make our campaign stronger, and within a week

0:26:040:26:09

letters were sent out to various organisations,

0:26:090:26:12

including the police, the county council,

0:26:120:26:15

to try and bring about changes in the speed limit

0:26:150:26:18

and also new street furniture to calm down the traffic.

0:26:180:26:23

The campaigners argued for a reduced speed limit

0:26:230:26:26

outside Hughenden Manor,

0:26:260:26:28

and for calming measures such as traffic islands to be installed.

0:26:280:26:31

Initially, we didn't seem to be getting very far.

0:26:310:26:35

It's often been quoted to us

0:26:350:26:38

that there's no such thing as a dangerous road,

0:26:380:26:41

just dangerous drivers,

0:26:410:26:42

but if that was the case, we would have perhaps just one accident

0:26:420:26:47

in that particular spot, you wouldn't have several, time and time again.

0:26:470:26:51

There has to be something that has to change

0:26:510:26:54

with either the make-up of the road or the speed of the road.

0:26:540:26:58

Within four months of Bernard and Vera's deaths,

0:26:580:27:00

Dory and the residents' association had taken a petition

0:27:000:27:04

around the valley, demanding change.

0:27:040:27:07

In November 2003, it was handed to the local county councillor,

0:27:070:27:10

complete with 645 signatures.

0:27:100:27:14

I think the public were reasonably happy

0:27:140:27:16

when they saw we were taking the matter seriously.

0:27:160:27:19

It was an intense campaign, certainly - it involved myself

0:27:190:27:22

and the officers making frequent lobbyings,

0:27:220:27:26

and we had many meetings with residents

0:27:260:27:28

to see what we could do to address their concerns,

0:27:280:27:31

and so it was a fairly long period of consultation.

0:27:310:27:37

In 2004, the campaigners achieved their first breakthrough -

0:27:370:27:41

the council agreed that there were issues with the road that needed investigating.

0:27:410:27:46

The subsequent safety review published in 2005

0:27:460:27:50

included 30 recommendations,

0:27:500:27:52

and top of the list was a reduction in the speed limit.

0:27:520:27:56

Once things started happening, I seem to remember,

0:27:560:27:59

it was a good few years ago now, but there were local consultations.

0:27:590:28:02

It was quite impressive. They even brought roadshows to the village.

0:28:020:28:07

They had people from the traffic department

0:28:070:28:10

and the county coming and showing what they planned to do.

0:28:100:28:14

So the whole process was well communicated

0:28:140:28:16

to the community about exactly what was going to happen.

0:28:160:28:19

In 2006, the council completed

0:28:190:28:22

the improvement work on the stretch

0:28:220:28:25

at a cost of £125,000.

0:28:250:28:27

We implemented some intelligent road studs

0:28:270:28:30

to delineate what is a fairly twisty road, particularly at night,

0:28:300:28:35

to delineate that road

0:28:350:28:37

to drivers in combination with upgrading the road markings

0:28:370:28:41

and also using road markings which stood above any standing water,

0:28:410:28:45

So in wet conditions, drivers would be able to see the edge in the centre of the road.

0:28:450:28:49

We did do some alterations to the road in terms of putting in a central island

0:28:490:28:53

with a right turn lane,

0:28:530:28:55

and that constrains the width of carriageway available to people

0:28:550:28:59

and therefore tempers the speed to a degree.

0:28:590:29:02

As a result of the work, there was a dramatic improvement

0:29:020:29:05

in the safety of the A4128.

0:29:050:29:08

In the three years after the work was carried out,

0:29:080:29:11

there was an 89% drop in fatal or serious accidents

0:29:110:29:15

on the road and no deaths.

0:29:150:29:17

It may not have brought back loved ones, but for those who had

0:29:170:29:20

experienced the impact of this killer road,

0:29:200:29:23

it was a welcome result.

0:29:230:29:26

If it takes basic improvements to save lives,

0:29:260:29:28

then yes, I'm happy.

0:29:280:29:30

It's just sad that accidents have to happen

0:29:300:29:34

and deaths have to occur before action is taken.

0:29:340:29:38

It's a relief that we've got things changed and we're not going to have

0:29:380:29:42

the kind of accidents that we've had in the past, where the people

0:29:420:29:45

that live locally had to pick up the pieces.

0:29:450:29:47

And also, it's damaging to so many families.

0:29:470:29:51

So we're just happy and pleased that we've got to a point now where

0:29:510:29:55

we have a safer road.

0:29:550:29:58

'A key part of designing safer roads

0:30:020:30:05

'is making sure drivers are aware of what's coming up.

0:30:050:30:09

'But sometimes for motorists, keeping our focus on the road ahead

0:30:090:30:12

'is easier said than done.'

0:30:120:30:14

Behind a wheel, there are distractions everywhere.

0:30:140:30:17

Have you ever wondered how much difference it makes having adverts on the side of the road?

0:30:170:30:22

Well, I've come to the Transport Research Laboratory to find out

0:30:220:30:26

just what impact they have on my driving.

0:30:260:30:29

-Hello, Nick, how's it going?

-Hi, Joe.

0:30:290:30:32

OK. Today's test is distraction by advertising.

0:30:320:30:35

You'll be driving through a route for about 15 minutes,

0:30:350:30:38

I'll monitor you from the control room

0:30:380:30:40

and measuring how distracted you are by advertising.

0:30:400:30:43

How are you actually going to tell how distracted I am?

0:30:430:30:46

I see there's cameras on the dashboard. What do they do?

0:30:460:30:49

Those cameras are part of the eye tracking system. They'll monitor

0:30:490:30:52

how long and how often you take your eyes off the road.

0:30:520:30:55

I'll be using the output to monitor your distraction.

0:30:550:30:58

OK. Sounds like a challenge, so let's get started.

0:30:580:31:01

Thanks, Nick.

0:31:010:31:02

-OK. That's good to go, Joe.

-OK, thank you.

0:31:060:31:08

So this route is designed to look like the suburbs of a city

0:31:100:31:13

and through the route, there are adverts

0:31:130:31:16

placed at different locations.

0:31:160:31:18

We're looking to see whether those adverts

0:31:180:31:21

distract the driver from driving the vehicle.

0:31:210:31:25

Some adverts are static, some are video adverts.

0:31:250:31:27

Joe knows that the purpose of this test

0:31:270:31:30

is to look at distraction by advertising,

0:31:300:31:32

but participants that come along to take part in these tests

0:31:320:31:35

aren't aware of the purpose of the drives.

0:31:350:31:37

They're just told to drive as they would normally.

0:31:370:31:41

We then look to see how distracted they were

0:31:410:31:43

by the advertising that they saw along the route as they drove it.

0:31:430:31:48

Road signs.

0:31:480:31:50

No big billboards as yet that really caught my eye, I don't think.

0:31:500:31:56

The monitors we're looking at show the virtual environment

0:31:560:31:59

that the driver sees.

0:31:590:32:00

This monitor in the top left shows the eye tracking PC

0:32:000:32:04

which is monitoring where the driver is looking.

0:32:040:32:08

Oh, yeah.

0:32:080:32:09

some quite well-known brands on the high street.

0:32:090:32:13

'In a study of driver's eye movements,

0:32:130:32:15

'it was found that 88% of drivers were distracted by adverts,

0:32:150:32:19

'with 20% glancing away from the road for more than two seconds.

0:32:190:32:23

'There's growing concern that roadside advertising

0:32:250:32:28

'presents a real risk to road safety.

0:32:280:32:30

'Some estimates suggest external distractives are responsible

0:32:300:32:33

'for up to 10% of all accidents.'

0:32:330:32:36

Phew!

0:32:370:32:38

Luckily, that worked OK, but the car in front of me

0:32:400:32:43

just did an emergency stop.

0:32:430:32:46

Now that bus is doing something very odd and bumping along.

0:32:460:32:49

What's going on there?

0:32:490:32:51

Quite a lot for the eye to take in actually.

0:32:510:32:54

We've got the first video advert appearing

0:32:540:32:57

on the right now.

0:32:570:32:58

See if Joe's distracted by that.

0:33:000:33:03

I think he's noticed it.

0:33:030:33:04

He wasn't watching the traffic lights

0:33:040:33:06

because of the video advert that was off to the right

0:33:060:33:11

as we came to that junction.

0:33:110:33:13

Another advert there.

0:33:130:33:16

Across the road.

0:33:160:33:18

That brand up on a billboard...

0:33:180:33:21

Caught his eye, he slowed down a touch.

0:33:210:33:23

Definitely caught my eye. Not sure what that says about me.

0:33:230:33:28

'Roadside adverts in the UK are controlled by local authorities

0:33:280:33:31

'and permission is granted based on factors such as the type of road

0:33:310:33:35

'and location, hence motorways not being plastered in advertising.'

0:33:350:33:40

In the studies that we've done, the static advertising

0:33:400:33:43

tended to take drivers' eyes away from the road

0:33:430:33:46

for about one second at a time.

0:33:460:33:47

For the video advertising,

0:33:470:33:50

the distraction was greater and that was more like two seconds

0:33:500:33:53

that they would take their eyes off the road to watch the videos.

0:33:530:33:56

Ah, now I haven't seen this before. This is a video advert coming up.

0:33:560:34:01

Something on BBC2.

0:34:010:34:02

How would that be interesting?

0:34:030:34:06

Definitely caught the eye though.

0:34:060:34:09

Three big billboards across the road

0:34:090:34:12

with moving images.

0:34:120:34:14

Good. So Joe noticed the pedestrian,

0:34:170:34:19

wasn't distracted by the advert that was on the bridge there.

0:34:190:34:23

That was very lucky.

0:34:230:34:25

A pedestrian walking out in front of me

0:34:250:34:28

when there was a video advert

0:34:280:34:30

with an attractive young model on it.

0:34:300:34:34

Most distracting!

0:34:340:34:36

That's a weird feeling. I mounted the kerb and it's worked.

0:34:380:34:42

So yeah, that was a really intense experience actually.

0:34:420:34:46

That's the most intense it's been in a simulator for me.

0:34:460:34:51

There were adverts everywhere and I could feel myself looking at them.

0:34:510:34:55

I don't know how distracted I was,

0:34:550:34:57

Nick will have the answer to that,

0:34:570:34:59

but I certainly took my attention off the road while they were there

0:34:590:35:03

and some, particularly the moving ones,

0:35:030:35:05

did draw my attention much more than others.

0:35:050:35:08

I don't know if I was dangerous in the amount I was looking at them,

0:35:080:35:12

but they certainly did distract me a bit.

0:35:120:35:14

As Joe was completing the route today, he was definitely distracted

0:35:140:35:18

by the adverts. Particularly the video adverts,

0:35:180:35:20

where he was taking his eyes off the road for seconds at a time.

0:35:200:35:24

And that was typical of the research findings we produced in this study.

0:35:240:35:28

'Research shows that roadside advertising distracts drivers.

0:35:280:35:33

'However it is still unclear how much of a risk this poses

0:35:330:35:36

'and it seems likely that, for the moment,

0:35:360:35:39

'there won't be any tightening of the regulations.'

0:35:390:35:41

Back in Scotland, local campaigners

0:35:450:35:48

are still trying to get the junction

0:35:480:35:50

where the A937 meets the A90 changed.

0:35:500:35:53

10 accidents resulting in injury, six serious injuries

0:35:530:35:57

and four deaths in five years

0:35:570:35:58

have left local residents constantly wary of using it.

0:35:580:36:02

Everybody has a story about the junction.

0:36:050:36:08

We've all had close misses, bumps, accidents,

0:36:080:36:10

known someone who's died there, or been hurt there.

0:36:100:36:14

20-year-old Jamie Graham was killed in 2004

0:36:140:36:18

while attempting to cross the junction in his car.

0:36:180:36:21

His vision had been obscured by a lorry

0:36:210:36:23

and, as he pulled out of the junction, he was struck

0:36:230:36:26

by another vehicle travelling in the overtaking lane.

0:36:260:36:29

He was killed instantly.

0:36:290:36:31

I would give every penny I had

0:36:310:36:34

to have Jamie back here.

0:36:340:36:36

To have a junction put in place there as well, you know.

0:36:360:36:41

I think there'd be a lot of people round about here as well

0:36:410:36:45

with the same view, that they would put towards it.

0:36:450:36:48

Jim firmly believes the junction was to blame

0:36:480:36:51

and that a flyover must be put in place to make it safer.

0:36:510:36:54

Back in 2005, the campaigners felt confident

0:36:560:36:59

the junction would be changed.

0:36:590:37:00

Following a petition, Transport Scotland lowered the speed limit

0:37:000:37:04

around the junction from 70 to 50 mph and installed speed cameras.

0:37:040:37:08

Campaigners claim they were told this was a temporary measure

0:37:080:37:11

while a more permanent solution was looked into.

0:37:110:37:14

But six years later, those measures are still in place.

0:37:140:37:18

I still believe that it is fundamentally dangerous.

0:37:180:37:22

The only way that road would be safe would be for a graded junction

0:37:220:37:26

or them doing something fundamentally different

0:37:260:37:29

to what they have done so far.

0:37:290:37:32

Even reducing the speed limit and putting cameras in

0:37:320:37:35

doesn't make it any safer, purely and simply because cars,

0:37:350:37:39

when they approach the cameras, they slow down.

0:37:390:37:43

After they've passed, they speed up again.

0:37:430:37:45

So by the time they reach the junction itself,

0:37:450:37:49

they're just about 70 mph anyway.

0:37:490:37:51

Worryingly, the dangers posed by this junction

0:37:510:37:54

are likely to get worse.

0:37:540:37:56

The dual carriageway now serves 3,000 more vehicles every day

0:37:560:38:00

than it did 10 years ago,

0:38:000:38:02

and the nearby port of Montrose is a growing industrial centre

0:38:020:38:05

with a raft of new housing developments.

0:38:050:38:08

However, any decision about a new junction will be influenced by cost.

0:38:080:38:12

In 2010, the Scottish Transport Minister said major work

0:38:140:38:17

would cost £11 million.

0:38:170:38:18

But yet the Scottish Government paid just £4 million

0:38:180:38:22

eight years previously to build a flyover

0:38:220:38:25

and an underpass across the A90 at Forfar.

0:38:250:38:28

And John Dawson argues there's an even cheaper solution.

0:38:280:38:33

The junction on the A90 needs to be made split level

0:38:330:38:36

as soon as is practical.

0:38:360:38:38

What that junction needs

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is one of the smaller split-level junction layouts

0:38:410:38:45

and other countries - particularly I think of Sweden - have come up with

0:38:450:38:50

some very economic schemes

0:38:500:38:52

to get smaller volumes of traffic over busy main roads.

0:38:520:38:57

You can be talking in the region of about £0.5 to £1.5 million

0:38:570:39:01

to do the most simple scheme.

0:39:010:39:03

In Britain, we tend to spend rather more than other countries

0:39:030:39:07

and we over-engineer perhaps more than others do.

0:39:070:39:11

These things get tied up in bureaucracy,

0:39:110:39:14

but at the heart of it, it always seems to come back to money and budgets.

0:39:140:39:18

How does that make you feel?

0:39:180:39:20

Angry, when it comes down to money.

0:39:200:39:23

Because what price do you put on a human life?

0:39:230:39:27

And when you're coming down to money,

0:39:270:39:30

we've been told the cost of a fatality on the A90

0:39:300:39:34

amounts into millions anyway.

0:39:340:39:36

So it's a horrible thing

0:39:360:39:40

to judge the costings.

0:39:400:39:42

It would be more cost-effective

0:39:420:39:45

to build a flyover to save a human life.

0:39:450:39:48

But I just think it's horrible that it always comes down to money,

0:39:480:39:51

because there's no amount of money can bring back Jamie.

0:39:510:39:55

There's no amount of money can bring back anybody who's died there.

0:39:550:39:58

But there might just be some hope.

0:39:580:40:01

Following a second petition from Jill,

0:40:010:40:05

this time with over 8,000 signatures,

0:40:050:40:07

the Scottish Government has formally agreed to investigate further.

0:40:070:40:11

In January the Petitions Committee were told

0:40:110:40:13

to do a costing exercise on the junction

0:40:130:40:16

as to how much it would cost

0:40:160:40:18

for that junction to be upgraded.

0:40:180:40:21

That was in January. This is July now and nothing's been done.

0:40:210:40:25

Absolutely nothing at all. You know, it's unacceptable.

0:40:250:40:28

It will take a minimum three years to build.

0:40:280:40:32

Each day away from an announcement is another three years of waiting.

0:40:320:40:36

How are you feeling now?

0:40:360:40:37

It's been a long time and you've been at the front of this campaign,

0:40:370:40:41

and ultimately you haven't got what you wanted.

0:40:410:40:44

Are you about to throw in the towel?

0:40:440:40:46

I just want to see a flyover built.

0:40:460:40:49

Just want to be able to know that we can all cross there safely.

0:40:490:40:52

I've got two children that are driving now,

0:40:520:40:55

another one growing up and before he hits driving age,

0:40:550:40:58

I'd really, really like to see it built.

0:40:580:41:01

It's hard to imagine, casting your mind back,

0:41:010:41:04

if your family hadn't been altered in such a permanent way

0:41:040:41:07

-as it was that day.

-Yes, we changed that day.

0:41:070:41:11

Fundamentally, our lives totally changed.

0:41:110:41:15

My view on things changed.

0:41:150:41:18

Seeing a picture of Jamie brings it all back.

0:41:180:41:22

It all floods back to you.

0:41:220:41:24

What happened that day, it goes over and over and over.

0:41:240:41:28

You go through all the what-ifs.

0:41:280:41:30

What if he was five minutes later?

0:41:300:41:33

What if he used another junction?

0:41:330:41:35

You know, would he still be here,

0:41:350:41:37

or would he have been killed at that other junction?

0:41:370:41:40

And I always come to the same answer - that junction.

0:41:400:41:44

It was that junction that caused it.

0:41:440:41:46

Transport Scotland declined our repeated

0:41:500:41:52

requests for an interview, but they did supply us with this statement.

0:41:520:41:56

Having been here and spent quite a bit of time

0:42:240:42:27

watching what goes on at this junction,

0:42:270:42:30

I really can appreciate the frustrations of the campaigners.

0:42:300:42:33

They're still no closer to that elusive flyover.

0:42:330:42:37

OK, so there haven't been any fatalities in recent years.

0:42:370:42:42

But be in no doubt, this is still a very dangerous junction

0:42:420:42:46

and we shouldn't be in the position that death alone

0:42:460:42:49

dictates our approach to road safety.

0:42:490:42:52

Transport Scotland published the findings

0:42:550:42:57

of their cost review in late September 2011.

0:42:570:43:00

The report outlined five options and estimated that upgrades

0:43:000:43:05

would cost between £13.5 and £28 million.

0:43:050:43:08

The next stage is for the report to be considered by the authorities

0:43:080:43:12

and other interested parties.

0:43:120:43:14

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:250:43:28

E-mail: [email protected]

0:43:280:43:31

Joe Crowley has been travelling up and down the UK looking at some of the nation's most dangerous roads and asking if there is more that can be done to make these routes safer for those who use them.

Joe is in Scotland to look at the A937 and, in particular, where it meets the A90 - a junction that has claimed a number of lives in the last decade. He meets the father of a young man killed at the junction and local campaigners, and hears the assessment of an independent road safety expert, before putting all the concerns to Transport Scotland.

Also on the show, he visits Buckinghamshire and the A4128, a road that was recently ranked as the most improved road for safety in the whole of the UK; and finally Joe visits the Transport Research Laboratory to find out what difference roadside advertisements make to drivers' concentration.


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