A588/ A1307 Britain's Killer Roads


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A588/ A1307

Joe Crowley looks at the UK's most dangerous roads and asks how we can make them safer. Joe looks at the A588 in Lancashire, a road with combined hazards.


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

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It was like the end of your world.

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And it's not always the motorist that's to blame.

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She'd be alive if there'd been barriers there.

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Today, we expose these killer roads

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and ask if enough's being done to prevent needless deaths.

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..to stop any other mum or dad

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walking into a hospital and having to identify their son.

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Welcome to Lancashire and the Wyre Estuary in particular.

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This delightful area used to be much quieter -

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until this bridge over here was built.

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For almost 20 years, this bridge has brought increased traffic to the north side of the river

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and turned the A588 into a notorious route for accidents.

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Now, it looks like a lovely rural area,

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but this road does pass through several villages

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posing a persistent threat to those who live along it.

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Set in the north-west of England in the Lancashire countryside is the A588,

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a 19-mile road linking Blackpool in the south and Lancaster to the north.

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At around the half-way point of this road lies the village of Stalmine

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and a stretch of about two miles

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that has enough corners, built-up areas and speed limit changes

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to create a real blackspot area for motorists and pedestrians.

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You're three times more likely to suffer an accident here

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than on the average British A road.

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Between 2004 and 2010, this five-mile stretch saw 78 accidents resulting in injury,

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including 22 serious injuries

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and four deaths.

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One of those seriously injured here was Charlotte Rainford.

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In 2007, when she was just 14,

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she was hit by a car while crossing this 60-mile-an-hour road with her sister

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to catch the bus to school.

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Charlotte was left in a coma for months.

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The car hit her

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and finished up about 30 to 40 metres up the road.

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Technically dead, when her sister moved down to see what was wrong with her.

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She gave her CPR, brought her round, somebody called an ambulance.

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The air ambulance arrived.

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Charlotte was in a coma for three and a half months.

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Three and a half months?

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She was in intensive care for another six weeks.

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And, thanks to wonderful surgeons, et cetera,

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and all the physiotherapy et cetera that she's had,

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she's made a fantastic recovery

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but at the end of the day, she's still severely handicapped

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and always will be.

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The driver was not at fault,

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but Charlotte's life was devastated by the accident.

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In 2009, 3,446 pedestrians were hit on Britain's rural roads,

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resulting in 143 deaths.

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The local residents confirm that this road has a deadly reputation.

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I've been here just over two years and I've seen about seven accidents.

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-Really?

-Only last month, there was within ten minutes,

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there was a car crashed into one here,

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going too fast, and some guy came off the bus

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and tried to get across the road and he got run down by a car.

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Luckily, he was OK, but this is the kind of thing that happens all the time.

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Just traffic mayhem. No idea why they haven't decided to put something here.

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Other local villages, there's at least one crossing. But here, no crossing.

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As you can see, we've had a pedestrian refuge put in.

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We thought, "Great. Next thing, we get the crossing."

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That was years ago. We're still waiting for the crossing.

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Members of the local parish council feel that the village is dangerously split in two

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by the road.

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One of the major problems in village life has been this road

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which divides the community.

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The people of Stalmine, some five years ago,

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saying in our parish plan, the top priority of our village

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was for a 30 mile an hour limit,

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which we were successful in getting.

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The next priority was for a pedestrian crossing.

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And we still don't have one.

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It's not just within the village

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that the lack of pedestrian crossings are an issue,

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as Charlotte's grandfather Jim explains.

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Half of these rural roads don't have a footpath.

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There isn't one that side of the road.

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Or further down there.

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So you've got to constantly cross the roads to find a footpath.

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What it needs here, for children crossing the road, both ways, is a zebra crossing.

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-Right.

-That would make a hell of a difference.

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Doug Smith lives a few hundred metres from the bus stop outside Stalmine

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on a stretch of the A588 where the speed limit is 60 miles per hour.

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He's witnessed first hand the dangers this road poses to motorists.

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This has been a major area of major accidents over the time I've been here.

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I've been here 18 years.

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Just between where we stand now, this entrance,

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-and my other entrance there, we've had three fatalities.

-Three?!

-Three fatalities in that period.

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We've also had numerous fatalities up near the junction and the bus stops.

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-Crikey.

-It's horrendous.

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For every one accident, there's many more that go unreported

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which are so close to being a fatality.

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We only had one a month ago, just right here.

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It could so easily have been a head-on crash

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and it missed by inches.

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The residents see three clear problems with this part of the A588.

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The bus stops in the 60 mile an hour zone are dangerous.

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After hearing the residents' concerns, I've set out to experience this stretch for myself.

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We're in the village of Hambleton, just north of the River Wyre.

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It's a nice little village. It's very calm. It's 30 miles an hour.

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You've got these red rumble strips for people to mark their speed.

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Just ahead of me here is a speed camera.

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So this is checking that everyone is doing no more than 30 miles an hour.

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There's also a zebra crossing, right by a butcher's, a hair salon, all the local shops.

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That's the hub of the village back there.

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Hambleton doesn't have too many road safety issues,

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but it's not so good as we leave and drive to Stalmine.

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Here, instantly, we hit the national speed limit.

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That suddenly feels a bit fast, because the road is still quite narrow.

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It's quite windy. There's a big corner here.

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There's houses and driveways coming out onto it.

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And yet it says it's 60 miles an hour, so that's not ideal.

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There's a little warning sign. I can't make it out.

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I now can make it out because it was behind a hedge but it's gone past.

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It definitely said warning, so it's talking about a black spot.

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There's a big bus going past. Just around this corner,

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we've got two bus stops.

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There's no lay-bys for them to stop in. If they both come at the same time, they block the road.

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This is a 60mph stretch, just after a corner.

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So if you come round there and find a static bus and you're doing 60,

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that really is quite serious, actually.

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In fact, I'm only doing 40 miles an hour. Maybe 45 at times.

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So people would do this a lot faster, still within the speed limits,

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I can't imagine it's that safe.

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Here we are, we're now in Stalmine.

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It goes straight down to 30 miles an hour.

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You've got the post office, a corner shop supermarket, pub.

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This is the hub of the village. The church is there.

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But there's no crossing like we saw in Hambleton.

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You'd expect to be some way of pedestrians getting across the road.

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But nothing. Shortly after that, we come out of the village.

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National speed limit signs. Once again, back up to 60 miles an hour.

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So what a varied and tricky little road the A588 can be.

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The stretch of road outside Doug's house has become so notorious,

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it's been featured on the local news.

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'This beautiful Lancashire stretch has seen some ugly scenes.

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'These are the remnants of the latest crash.

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'A car being driven by this man's girlfriend overturned here last night.

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'Seven lives have been claimed on this road in 12 years.

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'The local community is campaigning to have the speed limit cut to 40.

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'As for people living here, until something is done to improve safety,

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'they're just left picking up the pieces.'

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We had a series of three crashes in four days at this particular spot.

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The first one was a Land Rover Discovery.

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It was coming this way, lost it, hit the telegraph, broke it in half,

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and ended up in this dyke upside-down.

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Very fortunately, the gentleman escaped unhurt.

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The next night, a lady came round late at night and went through the hedge where the wooden bit is.

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Then we had a third night where luckily nothing happened.

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On that third day, the council had come and removed the telegraph pole.

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The fourth night, three girls in a Fiat Punto were coming from the same direction.

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They came round the corner, again lost it.

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The tyre tracks went over where the telegraph pole would have been.

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They hit the fence here.

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That made them catapult which made them him my neighbour's gatepost.

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Then they did another somersault and ended up in the hedge

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roughly where the For Sale sign is, upside-down and that broke their fall.

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They were all right.

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Their tyre tracks went right through where the telegraph pole had been.

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-A Fiat Punto is a small car. If you hit that pole...

-It's not nice what could have happened.

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Fortunately, something bigger had taken it out and they were unhurt.

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Thankfully, there haven't been any deaths outside Doug's house recently.

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But he's been so frustrated by the authority's lack of action,

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he's taken matters into his own hands.

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We were talking about where the telegraph pole used to be.

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I can see a slight dimple in the grass. But it's no longer there.

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-How come it's got moved finally?

-When they came to put it back up,

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I came out and begged them to move it into my garden.

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I don't want it in my garden, but I begged them to put it there, and they said OK.

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I'm glad to say there's been no fatalities or major accidents

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in this spot since that was done,

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even though we still have tyre tracks coming across here. I believe that's made a difference.

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We've heard from residents living in and around Stalmine

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and it's clear they strongly believe pedestrian crossings need to be installed

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and that the speed limit outside the village is simply too fast.

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But to help get a better understanding of the road,

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we've asked a senior road engineer to have a look.

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John Dawson has over 35 years' experience

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of British roads, so he's ideally placed to comment.

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We're coming to the de-controlled sign, which means national speed limit.

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60 miles an hour we're allowed to travel legally

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on this road, if it's safe to do so.

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The environment doesn't seem quite right for a 60mph speed limit.

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There's far too much property, I would have thought.

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I'm not sure I'd like to come out of my driveway into a 60mph road in this way.

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No protected right turn on a 60mph road.

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There's a bus stop right in the middle of the road.

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This is 60 miles an hour.

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Ah, we're stepping down to 30 now.

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These transverse bars across the road telling the people arriving inside the 30mph limit

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that there must be some kind of hazard ahead.

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Why they're there for traffic going in the other direction is not clear.

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So we're coming up to a more built-up area again.

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Not very well laid-out. We haven't been told the speed limit for a considerable period now.

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Perhaps one of the most striking features was the use of 60mph national speed limits

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in a fairly suburban-looking type of environment.

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I was very surprised to see those speeds permitted.

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To be honest, I'd like to have seen a much more standardised layout

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where we know it can be effective in reducing death and serious injuries

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particularly to pedestrians.

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While John Dawson highlights issues over poor road surfaces and confusing signs,

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he also backs up local residents' concerns, citing:

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It's clear that both John Dawson and local residents

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feel changes need to be made to prevent further deaths and injuries on this road.

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I've returned to see Jim Hill, whose granddaughter Charlotte was hit

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while crossing the road.

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I'm meeting Charlotte, her mother and her sister for the first time

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to hear their recollections.

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Charlotte, a very distressing day. What do you remember from that morning?

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I remember seeing the headlights on the front of the car.

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And that's about it.

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You were crossing at the time, edging onto the road,

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waiting for the traffic to pass, is that right?

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Yes, on the other side.

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Yeah. There was no traffic coming from the other way.

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And then that's it. You don't remember the hospital? You were in a coma for months.

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The first thing I can remember is saying, "Morning, Mum."

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Morning, Mum?

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The zebra crossing to me would be, if the benefit just saves one life

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or one more child or adult being knocked over and being injured slightly.

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What's the cost?

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We want something different there to allow the children crossing to school

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and other people, to cross in safety.

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Peter Swarbrick explains that the risks to pedestrians trying to cross this road

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is a major cause for concern.

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One of the parameters for getting a pedestrian crossing in a village

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is the notion of a divided community.

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The parish council argues that this is a divided community.

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On the north-east side of the road are two mobile home parks

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with a lot of elderly residents.

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And there's the church and the public house.

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On the south side of the road is the post office, shop, village hall and hairdresser.

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So if any member of the community wants to access the services across the road,

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they have to wait a long time.

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In my office, it's not uncommon for pensioners to complain it's taking 20 minutes

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to cross the road. They're getting frightened.

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They come in, they're breathless.

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It's difficult for them.

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They really would like a pedestrian crossing on this road to make it safer.

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John Dawson agrees the road through the village

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is a challenge to pedestrians.

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The impression I had was that is was a road that would benefit greatly

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from modern design of living streets,

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of actually recognising that pedestrians are an important road user

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in this sort of environment and they need more attention.

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Speeds can be managed down by all sorts of techniques.

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The local residents have been campaigning for change

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both within the village and on the outskirts.

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Charlotte's grandfather Jim believes simple measures

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could have prevented her accident but feels his voice isn't being heard.

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We've tried for two or three years and gone round in circles.

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You couldn't argue with the County Council, the police. I have a letter here

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from the County Council and Lancashire Constabulary.

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-From the police?

-It contradicts itself completely.

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They're saying the majority of collisions here are not speed related

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but it's possible through poor driving and inappropriate speed

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though you might not be in excess of the speed... It's saying

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you can have an accident on this road driving within the speed limits.

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-Yes.

-That suggests that the speed limit is flawed.

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That it shouldn't be 60mph. It's possible to lose control of the car

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-doing 60, so it should be 40 or 30. Is that your feeling?

-Yes.

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I think that at school times where there are children crossing for school,

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at designated points, it should be 20, like it is outside schools. Why not at school bus stops?

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Doug has also been pushing for change.

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He's been petitioning for some years.

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You've been quite vocal. You've campaigned to get changes made.

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Between 2002 and 2004

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I organised a campaign to try and improve the safety

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of this area of the road.

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I did a petition where we got 2,000 local signatures

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which for a village is very good.

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We've had meetings with the Highways Department, the police, local councillors.

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And basically, very little's been done in that period.

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No-one can say they're unaware of the problems here.

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You've brought them to the authorities' attention.

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Yes, and it's well known it's a bad spot.

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-It's the national speed limit.

-It's 60mph, which is just ridiculous.

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Absolutely ridiculous. That's the main thing we wanted to stop.

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A view echoed by road safety expert, John Dawson.

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I was quite surprised to see 60mph speeds permitted

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in a road that looked fairly suburban to the eyes

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with lots of residences adjoining the road.

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And then we have the issue of the bus stop.

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If that's a bus once a day, perhaps that's an acceptable risk.

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But if that's a regular bus service,

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that looks to me a really strange thing to do

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to provide a bus stopping in the road on a 60 mile an hour road.

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We'll revisit the story of the A588 later,

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when I confront those responsible for road safety

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and ask why more isn't being done.

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You put in this island. All you had to do was paint in a crossing.

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It's unreasonable to introduce a crossing at this location

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when there are higher priorities elsewhere.

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Throughout Britain, there are many roads like the A588

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which have ongoing issues that threaten lives.

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But there are some causes for optimism.

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Killer roads that have been turned around.

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High-risk routes that have been improved with dramatic results.

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The A1307 is a mixture of dual and single carriageway road

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running from the A14 at Cambridge to the Suffolk town of Haverhill.

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There's a short section of this busy road

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that for over a decade had locals up in arms and campaigning for change.

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Until finally, major work was carried out.

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I think that bus stop was a tragedy waiting to happen.

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We had whole villages sign petitions.

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Every household.

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It was unacceptable that people were dying on this road.

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Something had to be done.

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Just south of Cambridge is an eight-mile stretch of the A1307

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that runs from the village of Hildersham to the town of Haverhill.

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It's a busy route that carries 20,000 vehicles per day

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and serves as the major link to Cambridge for many villages in the surrounding area.

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In just eight years, there were 149 accidents resulting in injury,

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including 41 serious injuries and 20 deaths.

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15-year-old Imogen Barker was killed in 2007

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when she was knocked down by a car as she crossed the road after getting off the bus from Cambridge.

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It happened on a February night at ten to seven.

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So it was very dark. There was no moon out or anything.

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It was a very dark night.

0:21:180:21:19

And as was standard for us, we'd take the bus into Cambridge.

0:21:190:21:24

She got off at the bus stop with two boys.

0:21:240:21:27

They just had to cross the road and she failed to make it.

0:21:270:21:33

She was hit by a car coming out of Haverhill, on the far side of the road.

0:21:330:21:37

The car was going at 50 to 60 miles an hour.

0:21:370:21:42

The car had been travelling within the speed limit,

0:21:420:21:45

but Imogen didn't stand a chance.

0:21:450:21:47

My wife and I were at the accident scene within ten minutes and found her there.

0:21:470:21:51

I also knew the moment that I arrived that she was dead

0:21:510:21:57

because - I'm in the medical profession myself -

0:21:570:22:00

and there was no urgency about anything.

0:22:000:22:03

If you're crossing a road and you get hit by a car at 50 to 60 miles an hour,

0:22:030:22:07

there is only one outcome from that, really.

0:22:070:22:10

It was only once that we'd had the tragedy of losing Imogen

0:22:100:22:16

and you then go back and look at that bus stop where the accident happened,

0:22:160:22:20

that you become much more aware of just how dangerous

0:22:200:22:24

a bit of road that was. How dangerous that bus stop was.

0:22:240:22:27

How dangerous it was to cross the road.

0:22:270:22:30

That road had one light opposite to where the bus stop was.

0:22:300:22:35

The bus stop itself was a wooden shed, a somewhat dilapidated garden shed.

0:22:350:22:41

It had a sign on the side of it for a bus stop, at the top,

0:22:410:22:44

but if you didn't know there was a bus stop there, you'd never notice it as you drove past.

0:22:440:22:49

It looked nothing like a proper bus stop.

0:22:490:22:51

It had no lighting around it,

0:22:510:22:53

there was no warning to anybody that there was a bus stop there.

0:22:530:22:57

Once you got off the bus stop which was muddy around this hut,

0:22:570:23:01

you then had to cross two lanes of an A road

0:23:010:23:06

at the top of a hill, so cars would be going at about 50 to 60 miles an hour

0:23:060:23:12

in both directions.

0:23:120:23:14

I think that bus stop was a tragedy waiting to happen.

0:23:140:23:19

When I think about it.

0:23:190:23:20

A dark country road

0:23:200:23:23

no lighting, fast cars going in either direction,

0:23:230:23:27

blinded to cars coming up the hill.

0:23:270:23:29

Sooner or later, someone was going to get injured there.

0:23:290:23:33

Imogen's death was the 13th on the road since 2001.

0:23:330:23:37

It was clear to local residents that there was a problem.

0:23:370:23:41

They'd been campaigning for change for almost a decade.

0:23:410:23:45

Esther Cornell was one of the residents involved.

0:23:450:23:48

Around 2000 there was a major meeting in Linton

0:23:480:23:54

with all the surrounding villages to see what could be done.

0:23:540:23:58

And at that meeting, we were basically told

0:23:580:24:04

that there hadn't been enough accidents in one place and there were no plans for the road.

0:24:040:24:08

So the parish councils from around the area set up a group called Access 1307

0:24:080:24:15

to work together and get a holistic approach on the road and get improvements.

0:24:150:24:21

There's been historically a major issue of getting out of the villages to access the road

0:24:210:24:26

as the road takes 20,000 vehicles a day.

0:24:260:24:29

The campaigners main concerns were:

0:24:290:24:31

The risks posed by the A1307 were acknowledged by local police.

0:24:380:24:42

The road features quite a few hazards.

0:24:420:24:45

By that I mean variable speed limits, nearside junctions, offside junctions

0:24:450:24:50

lay-bys, dual carriageways, villages.

0:24:500:24:55

There's quite a lot for a driver to think about when on this road.

0:24:550:24:58

I was very much aware of the campaign going on

0:24:580:25:01

because our local news and media, it featured in there quite heavily.

0:25:010:25:07

Sadly, after somebody died on this road, it was "Another death on the A1307".

0:25:070:25:12

It was a road that featured very highly in there.

0:25:120:25:15

I was well aware that there were groups of people, parish councils,

0:25:150:25:20

people that had a healthy interest on the safety on this road,

0:25:200:25:24

putting pressure for something to be done.

0:25:240:25:28

We gave a presentation of the problems for different villages.

0:25:280:25:31

We specifically mentioned the bus stop at Horseheath.

0:25:310:25:35

We said, "You can't expect people to cross the road here."

0:25:350:25:38

At that time, there hadn't been an accident.

0:25:380:25:42

Funding for accident blackspots, there's no funding for risk-taking.

0:25:420:25:47

There is no funding. We're talking quite small villages.

0:25:470:25:50

They look at it. "It's not going to affect that many people."

0:25:500:25:54

It's frustrating because there have been lots of fatal accidents.

0:25:540:25:57

Each one, you feel, "Goodness me. I can't carry on." It's difficult.

0:25:570:26:04

But the death of Imogen at the bus stop gave campaigners further incentive

0:26:040:26:08

to fight for something to be done.

0:26:080:26:10

After the accident, there was a public meeting held two weeks after the accident.

0:26:100:26:15

It was within two or three weeks,

0:26:150:26:17

up at the village next door to the bus stop.

0:26:170:26:20

The people from the council were there to talk about the road and the accident.

0:26:200:26:27

So that, instantly, was one of the topics that came up

0:26:270:26:30

the accident at the bus stop and what was going to happen.

0:26:300:26:33

We had whole villages sign petitions.

0:26:330:26:36

Every household signed it, particularly for Horseheath.

0:26:360:26:41

The whole community was behind it.

0:26:410:26:44

From that, a route study was undertaken on the road

0:26:440:26:47

to see what improvements could take place.

0:26:470:26:51

In 2008,

0:26:510:26:52

the A1307 was identified

0:26:520:26:55

as something that really needed to be done.

0:26:550:26:58

It was quite unique in the fact that it was a long stretch of road

0:26:580:27:01

rather than any specific junction where the problem was occurring.

0:27:010:27:06

We needed to find a different approach to what we normally do.

0:27:060:27:10

Rather than just trying to do something to appease people,

0:27:100:27:14

it was about making sure that what we put in was right for the route

0:27:140:27:20

in order to make the route safer for people to use.

0:27:200:27:23

Plans and budgets were being put in place for change.

0:27:230:27:26

But improvements didn't come soon enough.

0:27:260:27:29

We had managed to get funding for improvements to the road

0:27:290:27:33

which are quite significant.

0:27:330:27:35

But before they could be put into place and the funding year started,

0:27:350:27:40

another life was lost.

0:27:400:27:42

The teenager was killed at exactly the same location

0:27:420:27:45

as Imogen Barker.

0:27:450:27:47

But then finally, the breakthrough campaigners had been fighting for.

0:27:470:27:51

After years of tireless lobbying,

0:27:510:27:53

wholesale improvements were carried out along the route

0:27:530:27:57

at the bus stop and a nearby junction.

0:27:570:27:59

We've widened the road to give a right-turn lane

0:28:000:28:03

to protect vehicles turning right, allowing traffic to pass them from behind.

0:28:030:28:08

We've also put in a pedestrian island

0:28:080:28:11

so that there's not such a long crossing so people can do it in two stages.

0:28:110:28:15

And also improved the facilities to access the bus stops, including a footpath

0:28:150:28:21

and raising the level of the bus stop. In addition,

0:28:210:28:24

the visibility around the junction has been improved

0:28:240:28:27

by installing lighting and trimming hedges and trees.

0:28:270:28:30

Making the junction much more conspicuous to people using the road.

0:28:300:28:36

These measures were supported by a high-profile awareness campaign.

0:28:360:28:40

We knew the engineers were putting in engineering measures,

0:28:400:28:44

and we wanted to back that up with a campaign of media and press adverts.

0:28:440:28:50

So there were radio adverts. Drive safe along the A1307, there were posters made

0:28:500:28:55

that were put in local premises, so it was very visual again.

0:28:550:29:00

There were adverts on the back of buses that travelled along this route

0:29:030:29:07

so people could see again, "Stay safe on the 1307."

0:29:070:29:10

The approach we've used on the A1307 was unique.

0:29:100:29:15

It was a different way of working for us,

0:29:150:29:17

combining education, enforcement and engineering aspects of road safety.

0:29:170:29:22

It's something we've gone on to replicate in other areas of the county.

0:29:220:29:26

We've benefited as a service for it,

0:29:260:29:30

combining that education, engineering and enforcement

0:29:300:29:34

and working more closely together.

0:29:340:29:36

The changes made such a difference to the junction and bus stop.

0:29:360:29:40

It's a completely different area now.

0:29:400:29:43

I think what they ultimately did

0:29:430:29:44

was much better than anything I could ever have imagined was possible there.

0:29:440:29:50

Now when you go and look at the road,

0:29:500:29:52

you cannot understand how an accident could happen.

0:29:520:29:55

You can't understand how you could get off the bus and be knocked down.

0:29:550:29:59

You only have to negotiate one side of the road at a time.

0:29:590:30:03

Cars will be slowing down because there is a junction,

0:30:030:30:07

it's lit, there's a traffic island so you can't go whizzing through.

0:30:070:30:11

It's all so much clearer that there's something going on

0:30:110:30:15

and it's so much safer.

0:30:150:30:16

And the data backs up the measures.

0:30:160:30:19

In the three years prior to the improvements,

0:30:190:30:21

there were 53 accidents resulting in injury and nine deaths.

0:30:210:30:25

In the two and a half years since the work,

0:30:250:30:27

there have been 22 accidents resulting in injury and only one death.

0:30:270:30:31

But with another two people dying in an accident since we filmed,

0:30:310:30:35

there are still concerns about the safety of the road.

0:30:350:30:38

And with Haverhill continuing to grow at a rapid rate,

0:30:380:30:41

there is a feeling that perhaps more improvements will be needed in future.

0:30:410:30:46

At the present moment, we're going to carry on complaining,

0:30:460:30:50

obviously keeping an eye on the grave plans

0:30:500:30:52

and making sure that changes can happen

0:30:520:30:56

without the huge loss of life that's happened in the last ten years.

0:30:560:31:00

It's definitely not job done. I hate to say that.

0:31:000:31:04

But people are not injuring themselves on this road, so that's a positive.

0:31:040:31:10

It's nice to know that something good has come out of something that is so awful.

0:31:100:31:14

There's nothing good about Imogen losing her life in that way,

0:31:140:31:18

but the fact that something positive has come out of it by making that bit of road safer,

0:31:180:31:22

is some sort of comfort.

0:31:220:31:25

I would never want anyone to go through what we went through.

0:31:250:31:28

Losing your child is one of the worst things that can possibly happen.

0:31:280:31:33

Turning up at an accident scene just after it's happened

0:31:330:31:36

and seeing your daughter on the road is not something you want anyone to go through.

0:31:360:31:40

So if you can change a road such that that won't happen again,

0:31:400:31:45

that is a fantastic thing to do.

0:31:450:31:47

Improvements to dangerous roads are always welcome.

0:31:510:31:55

Sometimes, these changes aren't physically obvious.

0:31:550:31:58

I'm at the Transport Research Laboratory in Wokingham

0:31:580:32:01

to meet Dr Nick Reed and find out more about psychological traffic calming measures.

0:32:010:32:06

I want to experience how reducing the speed limit in a built-up area

0:32:060:32:11

can actually help control speeding when the driver re-enters faster roads.

0:32:110:32:16

Nick, what have we got lined up for today? What simulation are we doing?

0:32:160:32:21

This is the car simulator. You'll be driving it for about 15 minutes.

0:32:210:32:25

It's a route where you encounter a number of different villages

0:32:250:32:29

and in those villages, you might encounter some psychological traffic calming measures.

0:32:290:32:34

We'll be looking to see how that affects your speed as you drive.

0:32:340:32:38

Psychological. Not physical interventions like road bumps, but other techniques people can use.

0:32:380:32:44

Things that make you feel the road is more risky, and maybe choose to adopt a lower speed.

0:32:440:32:49

-OK. Let's give it a go, then.

-Take a seat.

0:32:490:32:52

As with many of the UK's A roads, this simulated road will take me through villages and countryside.

0:32:520:32:58

I'll experience a variety of different speed limits.

0:32:580:33:02

The simulator will monitor my speed, gear changes, and watch my eye movements

0:33:020:33:06

ready to be assessed at the end of the drive.

0:33:060:33:10

Around 1,000 people are killed each year because drivers and riders travel too fast.

0:33:100:33:15

Around two-thirds of accidents that result in serious injury or death

0:33:150:33:18

happen on roads with a 30mph limit or slower.

0:33:180:33:22

I can see the next village coming up.

0:33:220:33:25

Slightly narrower here, the gap.

0:33:250:33:29

There, I did feel the road was constricted and I had to slow down.

0:33:290:33:33

I didn't probably brake hard enough

0:33:330:33:36

but I felt I had to come to the middle of the road

0:33:360:33:39

and certainly watch my speed.

0:33:390:33:43

-That's an example of traffic calming?

-Yes,

0:33:430:33:46

there was a brick surface that came into the left-hand side of the road,

0:33:460:33:52

making it feel that the road was narrower as you entered the village.

0:33:520:33:56

Hopefully, it encourages drivers to slow down as you enter the town.

0:33:560:34:00

-So it's like a gateway measure.

-OK. Is that what you call it?

-Yes.

0:34:000:34:05

Studies show drivers exceeding 40 miles an hour where gateways have been installed

0:34:050:34:10

falls from 50% to around 10%.

0:34:100:34:14

Here comes another village.

0:34:140:34:16

Ooh, 20.

0:34:160:34:17

This is testing, when you've got an even slower speed limit,

0:34:170:34:21

how well did the drivers obey that speed limit.

0:34:210:34:24

This makes you quite impatient, when you're crawling along.

0:34:240:34:28

"Thank you for driving safely."

0:34:280:34:30

While we're doing these tests, we not only look at your speed in villages,

0:34:320:34:36

it's your speed outside the villages as well.

0:34:360:34:39

So having gone through that 20 miles per hour region,

0:34:390:34:42

travelling at 60 again feels psychologically faster

0:34:420:34:48

than it had done previously.

0:34:480:34:51

Dropping the average driving speed by just one mile an hour reduces accidents by five per cent.

0:34:510:34:57

Behaviour in the simulator is representative of behaviour in the real world.

0:34:570:35:01

That's what we're trying to test.

0:35:010:35:03

Time for the results. How have the psychological measures affected my speed?

0:35:030:35:08

-So, Nick, how did I do?

-You drove very well.

0:35:080:35:11

You kept to all the speed limits

0:35:110:35:13

and you lowered your speed going through each of the villages.

0:35:130:35:17

What we saw with the psychological traffic calming

0:35:170:35:20

is you were more comfortable at the lower speed limits

0:35:200:35:23

when the psychological calming measures were in place.

0:35:230:35:26

You slowed down and took the villages more slowly

0:35:260:35:30

and were more comfortable at that lower speed when there were extra measures.

0:35:300:35:34

I certainly found the first time I went through a village I was doing it fast with no calming measures.

0:35:340:35:40

The calming measures made me think more about the speed. Is that typical?

0:35:400:35:44

Yes, the measures are part of a tool kit of measures

0:35:440:35:48

that an authority can use

0:35:480:35:50

to help reduce speeds at certain locations.

0:35:500:35:53

How many people would you test a simulation like this on?

0:35:530:35:57

We use a range of numbers of people.

0:35:570:36:00

Anything from 20 to 100 participants

0:36:000:36:02

that come in, drive the simulator, and we compare their results.

0:36:020:36:06

Is your conclusion that these traffic calming measures work?

0:36:060:36:09

The conclusion was that psychological calming measures

0:36:090:36:12

are effective and can be more appropriate at certain locations

0:36:120:36:16

to reduce speeds.

0:36:160:36:18

Back in Lancashire, the short stretch of the A588 around Stalmine

0:36:220:36:26

is still three times as dangerous as an average British A road.

0:36:260:36:31

Charlotte Rainford was hit as she crossed the 60 mile an hour road to catch a bus.

0:36:310:36:36

She spent three and a half months in a coma.

0:36:360:36:38

Her family want to see changes made to the road

0:36:380:36:41

before more lives are devastated.

0:36:410:36:44

She's lucky to be here. Her injuries were horrific.

0:36:440:36:47

She spent six months in hospital in Manchester.

0:36:470:36:52

What's the cost of a zebra crossing to the cost of supporting someone through hospital and treatments?

0:36:520:36:59

-It's nothing in the perspective of everything.

-No.

0:36:590:37:03

Many of the local residents have been campaigning for lower speed limits and crossings.

0:37:030:37:08

But with limited success.

0:37:080:37:10

There is a saying among municipal engineers that in order to make things better,

0:37:100:37:15

things have got to get worse so you can then improve them.

0:37:150:37:19

This means that if things do get worse,

0:37:190:37:21

then there's more willingness on behalf of the county to spend money.

0:37:210:37:26

But does that mean somebody has to be killed or maimed

0:37:260:37:29

because of money?

0:37:290:37:31

A lot of those people that have been hurt, either injured or passed away,

0:37:320:37:36

have been people that I know, or I know people that know them.

0:37:360:37:40

It's just a terrible loss of life.

0:37:400:37:43

People want answers, so I've arranged to meet Jim Robson from Lancashire County Council

0:37:450:37:50

to discuss their concerns and find out what decisions have been made.

0:37:500:37:54

Jim, thanks for taking the time to meet me.

0:37:540:37:56

The A588, it's a bit quiet at the moment,

0:37:560:37:59

but it is a problem road, isn't it?

0:37:590:38:01

A problem in terms of accidents, yes.

0:38:010:38:03

We share data with the police in terms of accidents

0:38:030:38:08

and looking at the figures, there's clearly a higher number of collisions and casualties.

0:38:080:38:16

The residents we've spoken to, there are a couple of things they want to address.

0:38:160:38:20

To the south of the village there's a very fast section of road, 60mph limit,

0:38:200:38:26

and they want that reduced.

0:38:260:38:28

There was representation locally to a local committee

0:38:280:38:32

and local people involved through the community

0:38:320:38:34

that they thought this ought to be taken to a reduced level.

0:38:340:38:38

The cabinet member listened to this representation

0:38:380:38:41

and has included a reduction to 50 miles an hour

0:38:410:38:45

as part of the programme that's due to be completed this financial year.

0:38:450:38:49

So the speed limit is going to be reduced. Good news.

0:38:490:38:52

Is that slow enough? There's a section with driveways, a nursery on the corner,

0:38:520:38:58

buses often stationary in the road.

0:38:580:39:01

The bus stop is some distance from the bend.

0:39:010:39:05

We had a look at it this morning on the way here and ought to be visible over the hedges

0:39:050:39:12

if they're maintained by landowners.

0:39:120:39:15

There isn't a crossing there.

0:39:150:39:17

The level of pedestrian activity suggests a crossing would be inappropriate

0:39:170:39:21

and people have to take appropriate caution as they cross the road.

0:39:210:39:25

The council says it's committed to reducing the speed limit to 50mph.

0:39:250:39:29

But that doesn't deal with campaigners' demands for a pedestrian crossing.

0:39:290:39:33

If hit by a vehicle at 40mph, nine out of ten pedestrians would be killed.

0:39:330:39:38

At 20mph, it's just one in 40.

0:39:380:39:42

If we go into the village of Stalmine,

0:39:420:39:44

there has been a lot of attention from the local community

0:39:440:39:49

on the campaign to get a crossing in the village. Why isn't there a crossing there?

0:39:490:39:54

Unfortunately, at that location, it simply hasn't met the criteria

0:39:540:39:58

of being screened with other priorities because of their higher level of usage.

0:39:580:40:03

So Hambleton has a crossing because it has more people.

0:40:030:40:07

But Stalmine isn't worthy of one. Is that what we're saying?

0:40:070:40:11

It's not a matter of being worthy. It's what the demands are around the county.

0:40:110:40:17

We have to assess them and see which have the highest priority based on those assessments.

0:40:170:40:22

Funding is allocated according to that.

0:40:220:40:25

But the council drew up plans for a crossing in 2007.

0:40:250:40:28

I've got a copy. I want to know why work was started but not completed.

0:40:280:40:33

You put in this island. All you had to do was paint in a crossing.

0:40:330:40:37

We've done the part of the works we could do with the funding available,

0:40:370:40:42

which was to improve footways.

0:40:420:40:44

We didn't have funding to introduce a crossing

0:40:440:40:46

and it would be unreasonable to have a crossing at this location

0:40:460:40:50

when there are higher priorities around the country.

0:40:500:40:53

You have to be careful on this, because when it comes down to pots of funding

0:40:530:40:57

what we can and can't do, we can build this but not paint that in,

0:40:570:41:01

you look very inflexible to local people when there's a clear demand that they need and want this.

0:41:010:41:08

In fact, we've been flexible in extending the footway scheme to include the landing island

0:41:080:41:13

and made best use of the funding we had.

0:41:130:41:15

But we couldn't introduce a crossing with higher priorities elsewhere.

0:41:150:41:20

There's no doubt the A588 has a notorious reputation as an accident blackspot.

0:41:260:41:32

Local campaigners and some road safety experts agree

0:41:320:41:36

that much more needs to be done to help protect road users.

0:41:360:41:40

The council have agreed to implement a reduced speed limit of 50mph

0:41:400:41:44

on parts of this road.

0:41:440:41:45

But is it enough?

0:41:450:41:47

Anything's an improvement. That's excellent news.

0:41:480:41:51

Why it's taken this long, I don't know.

0:41:510:41:54

I still think, like the majority of people in the village and on this road,

0:41:540:41:59

we signed a petition with 2,000 signatures asking it to be 40.

0:41:590:42:05

But 50 is an improvement.

0:42:050:42:07

-We still need a zebra crossing.

-Still need a zebra crossing.

-For the kids.

0:42:070:42:11

It's disappointing.

0:42:110:42:13

But I think the more people that object to the lack of a crossing,

0:42:130:42:19

if people become more involved,

0:42:190:42:22

-then maybe something will be done by pressure.

-Yes.

-Public pressure.

0:42:220:42:26

This road continues to disregard the needs of pedestrians

0:42:260:42:30

with inappropriately placed bus stops and no sign of a crossing down there in Stalmine.

0:42:300:42:36

But there is some good news. Finally, after all that campaigning,

0:42:360:42:40

this stretch of the A588 will have its speed limit lowered by ten miles an hour.

0:42:400:42:45

Will that be enough to prevent serious accidents here in the future?

0:42:450:42:50

Who knows? I really hope so.

0:42:500:42:53

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:190:43:23

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 Lancashire looking at the A588, and a section of road where the speed limit and a lack of pedestrian crossings are a hazard to all road users. He meets the family of a teenager seriously injured as she crossed the road, hears from those who live alongside the road and gets the assessment of an independent road safety expert, before confronting the council.

Also on the show, we visit the A1307, just south of Cambridge, to hear how a decade of campaigning saw major improvement work carried out by the council on a notorious and deadly stretch with dramatic results; and Joe visits the Transport Research Laboratory to find out how psychological traffic calming measures can influence the speed of drivers.