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Lucky a pedestrian was not involved
10:23am Thursday 8th March 2012 in Letters
The headline on the front of the Wharfedale Observer highlighted once again the dangers associated with traffic on Newall Carr Road. It isn’t very long ago when there was a fatal accident not much further up the road than the recent incident. The road is notorious for its accident history and what has been done by Leeds City Council or North Yorkshire County Council to help to alleviate the problems? Absolutely nothing! These two so-called authorities do not appear to have the slightest notion to either agree upon or negotiate a mutually-acceptable solution to the problem.
Comments from local politicians seem to concentrate more on the circumstances of the event and have not, in my view, addressed in any way the real concerns of people in the area. These issues generally arise when people are looking for votes and are quickly brushed aside after the election. Personally, I don’t suppose that an HGV ban would ever be an acceptable solution although suggestions have been put forward in the past about the suitability of other routes. I have no desire at present to argue for or against other options but would ask that the local situation be addressed more positively by those in a position to make changes.
My concerns are not about the types of traffic that use the road but about the dangers that the traffic poses. Let me try to explain . . .
Think of a blank sheet of paper across which you see a red mite walking. You try to brush it off but being a little heavy-handed you crush it into the paper so that all that is left is a messy red smear. On a much larger scale substitute the sheet of paper for a footpath, the mite for a pedestrian and the hand for an uncontrollable 25-tonne behemoth. Even at the permitted 30mph speed limit allowed at that point on Newall Carr Road the result could well have been catastrophic. The other pedestrian protection measure provided by the Armco barrier on the bend gives good protection to pedestrians from the side but affords very little or no protection from a very heavy object falling on to it from above as was the case recently. The barrier is far too low to give any protection from tall and heavy vehicles.
The logical measure to take would be to reduce the speed limit by 5-10mph on a temporary basis until such time as further facts come to light – if they ever do!
As far back as I can recall there have never been any notices to approaching traffic indicating the stretch of road as being an accident black spot and advising drivers to be extra cautious.
Some drivers treat the stretch of road leading down to the corner where the accident occurred as a race track as there are no speed limitations indicated on the approaches to the town. A stepping down from, say 40mph, and in 5mph increments to a limit on the hill in question of 20mph would be a positive step. Let me reiterate here that I have no reason to believe that the truck driver had been driving the vehicle at a speed in excess of the specified limit.
The introduction of two or three speed cameras on the approaches to the town would also be of benefit. I appreciate that some leeway should be afforded to drivers when imposing limits and on this particular stretch of road limits should be reduced further to take such mitigation into account.
My final comment concerns those empowered to implement safety measures on our local roads. Many of these people are very well paid for the jobs they are required to carry out and it amazes me that no action has been taken to make this particular road safer for all users despite the intense focus on health and safety in recent years. The people of the town have the right to know which parties are responsible for safety on this and other roads whether they are employed by Leeds or North Yorkshire and in this respect request this information is provided.
We can only trust in our local authorities to proceed responsibly. Whilst I express my hope that the driver of the vehicle recovers completely I am also relieved that there was no pedestrian in the vicinity at the time of the incident. A life destroyed in such a manner would be devastating for the whole community! We should thank God that a child was not involved!
The Whartons, Otley