MAP: 'Alarming' A500 death toll sparks action call
THE devastating effect of more than 500 accidents on one of North Staffordshire's busiest roads is revealed today.
The Sentinel has accessed data which shows the full impact of the alarming number of road traffic crashes and deaths on the A500.
More than 500 accidents involving some 1,000 vehicles and 700 casualties – including 15 fatal smashes – have taken place on the busy D-Road in six years.
Now the figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act by the Department of Transport, have prompted calls for action, with Stoke-on-Trent South MP Rob Flello planning to write to the Transport Secretary to express his alarm at the number of fatalities.
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There were a total of 506 accidents between 2005 and 2011, injuring 727 people and involving 1,060 cars, vans, lorries and motorbikes. More than half of the accidents – 298 – involve two vehicles, while 107 were single vehicle crashes and 71 involved three vehicles.
The largest smash, which took place on the northbound carriageway between Talke and Alsager, in February 2010, was a 13-vehicle pile-up which followed sudden snowfall and left the road closed for several hours.
Fifteen fatal crashes throughout that time have claimed the lives of several victims including:
Kevin Dunne, aged 42, of Lightwood, whose Jaguar X-Type hit a barrier and a parked lorry on February 16, 2007.
Driver Ian Lewkowicz, of Hanford, and his 16-year-old passenger Hayley Bates, of Biddulph, who were both killed when Mr Lewkowicz's sports car slid into a lorry parked in a lay-by on September 22, 2010.
Joshua Kirkham, aged 20, of Blackbrook, who crashed into a parked lorry in the same lay-by on August 16, 2011.
Church minister Dominic Culshaw, aged 46, of Powderham Close, Packmoor, who died after his BMW 520 was involved in a collision with two other cars and two vans, on May 3, 2011.
MP Mr Flello will now raise the matter with Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, quoting the figures obtained by The Sentinel.
He said: "I will ask for an urgent review of the A500, to find out what is causing so many accidents.
"There are three main problems. The first is where the A500 meets the M6. That junction is dreadful and something needs to be done.
"Then there are far too many accidents on the D-Road where it travels through Stoke-on-Trent and we need to find out what is causing them. I have also seen some statistics which show that on average there is one accident a week requiring emergency services on the slip road on and off the A50."
Newcastle GP Latif Hussain has attended a number of accidents along the road, in his role with the BASICS group, which attends emergencies.
Dr Hussain said: "The figures don't surprise me. We've been out to quite a few accidents on the road.
"It is a busy road and the speed limit is a problem on certain parts of it. Then it's a question of whether people observe that speed limit.
"The section where it joins the motorway at junction 15 was set at national speed limit and is unlit and that has caused problems.
"Coming down to junction 16 we have had quite a lot of incidents around there and there has been quite a lot of serious accidents, even resulting in fatalities.
"The problems are the speed, the nature of the road and the fact that there isn't any lighting along part of it."
A reduced speed limit of 50mph is set on the D-Road between Etruria and Hanford, while the rest remains at national speed limit.
Carolyn Wheat promotes road safety through her charity, the Andy Taft Charitable Trust, founded after losing her partner to a road accident in 2005.
Carolyn, aged 51, of Meir Heath, said: "I know people hate them, but I think speed cameras are the answer.
"They are there for a reason and I think one of the big problems with the A500 is speeding. The police should be taking more proactive measures like stopping people and giving out more stringent fines.
"The only way to stop people speeding is by hitting them in the pocket."
Police have recently focussed on motorists speeding on the 50mph stretch of the road between Etruria and Hanford. Some 1,347 drivers were fined in just three months of using mobile speed cameras in a crack-down launched last September.
Chief Inspector Steve Smytheman, head of roads policing for Staffordshire Police, said: "The safety of our roads is a key priority for public service partners across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
"Every person killed or seriously injured is a tragedy.
"We are determined to continue working towards reducing the number of casualties."
Stoke-on-Trent City Councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transportation, pictured below, said: "Road safety is a top priority for the city council and we are fully committed to continuing to reduce the number of accidents.
"The council is part of a county-wide safer roads partnership which launched a major crackdown on motorists flouting the 50mph speed limit along the busy commuter route, which started in September.
"No fatal or serious accidents have been reported during this time.
"However, I am aware that far too many accidents have happened on the A500 in the past and I am determined to take the necessary action to ensure that the downward trend continues.
"I would also urge drivers to watch their speed – one accident is one too many."
A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: "Since 2005 we have undertaken various improvements on the A500 including closure of laybys, resurfacing sections of the carriageway, improvements to road markings and renewal of road studs.
"We are committed to improving road safety and continue to work with Staffordshire Police, the Staffordshire Road Safety Partnership and Stoke-on-Trent City Council on potential safety improvements that can be made along the A500 in the future."