Coroner wants cut to A500 speed limit after drink-driver's death
A DEPUTY coroner has called for the speed limit to be cut on part of the A500 after a drink-driver died in a crash.
Joshua Kirkham suffered fatal injuries when his Peugeot 207 hit a trailer parked in a lay-by, close to Junction 15 of the M6.
The lay-by near the Hanchurch roundabout has since been closed off after four people, Mr Kirkham included, died in four years after crashing into parked lorries on the unlit section of the 70mph D-road.
Now North Staffordshire deputy coroner Anthony Curzon will write to the Highways Agency to urge officials to cut the speed limit to 50mph on the A500 stretch between Hanford roundabout and Junction 15.
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He will also call for lighting to be improved on the road.
At an inquest into Mr Kirkham's death, the 20-year-old was described as a 'competent and sensible' driver.
Blood tests revealed he was almost three times the legal drink-drive limit at the time of the crash.
Mr Curzon recorded a verdict of accidental death.
He said: "It seems quite ridiculous that the 50mph speed limit should become a de-restricted section for what is little more than 1,000 yards."
The inquest heard Mr Kirkham, of Nantwich Road, Blackbrook, had been out drinking with friends in Hanley on the night of August 15 last year.
The former St Joseph's College pupil, who was studying for a degree at Lancaster University, had visited at least two bars and a nightclub before driving home in the early hours of the morning.
At about 3am, while travelling southbound in the outside lane, the offside wheels of his car partly mounted the grass verge on the central reservation.
His car then turned anti-clockwise across both lanes and collided backwards with street furniture and a bush before eventually hitting the rear of the trailer.
Lorry driver Colin Bourne, who was parked in a lay-by on the opposite side of the carriageway, said he heard a "very loud bang" and looked out of his cabin to see the aftermath of the collision.
The weather at the time of the crash was dry but the road surface was damp from rain earlier in the night. No defects were found with the car. Mr Kirkham had been driving for two-and-a-half years.
PC Roger Wetton, who investigated the collision, said: "The most common causes of control loss are excessive speed for the situation, poor steering, over reaction, fatigue and a reduced level of consciousness.
"I'm unable to say with any certainty the exact cause of the accident, however, any of those factors may be relevant and could be exaggerated or aggravated due to the intoxication of the driver."
Mr Kirkham played for Stoke Rugby Club and worked at Blakey's Bar in Newcastle, during his time off from university.
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