Call for inquiry into A19 accident blackspots

The scene of a crash on the A19 at Easington in June photographed by Durham Constabulary.
The scene of a crash on the A19 at Easington in June photographed by Durham Constabulary.
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The Government is being called on to carry out a review on the A19’s accident blackspots to save life and limb.

Concerns have been raised in Parliament about the number of collisions on the route, with hundreds of crashes recorded every year on the road.

Tailbacks are a regular problem on the A19 following collisions.

Tailbacks are a regular problem on the A19 following collisions.

Easington MP Grahame Morris is fighting for action from the Department of Transport, fearing yet more death and damage if nothing is done.

Figures of fatal, serious and slight injury accidents during 2016 are still being calculated and confirmed, but initial statistics show that between the Wolviston interchange and Testo’s Roundabout at Boldon, there have been around 36 collisions involving 88 vehicles, causing 71 injuries, with six of those smashes classed as serious.

Figures for the year before there were three deaths on the road, 41 serious crashes and 275 slight, with six of the serious collisions on the section between Boldon and Seaham.

Statistics going back to 2011 show there are around 300 collisions along the full stretch of the A19 each year.

I hope this review takes place sooner rather than later as delays will risk further loss of life and injury.

Grahame Morris

The Department for Transport has said the most recent analysis put the cause “driver behaviour” as the primary cause accidents.

Ministers have said it is for police to take action, but Mr Morris has said that is a tough job at a time when the number of traffic officers has fallen.

Durham Constabulary, which covers Mr Morris’s constituency, has seen a drop from 86 10 years ago to 56 this year.

Northumbria’s traffic officers rose from 101 in 2007 to 171 in 2012, but dropped to 133 this year.

nop supplied    Easington MP Grahame Morris 
On Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 3:31:52 PM UTC, LONGSTAFF, Lee

nop supplied Easington MP Grahame Morris On Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 3:31:52 PM UTC, LONGSTAFF, Lee

Mr Morris said: “Anyone who uses the A19 regularly knows there are frequent delays due to accidents as a part of their commute.

“The road is dangerous but the Government have dismissed road safety concerns as a matter for the police only.

“The fact that there are two police forces involved Durham and Northumbria makes a co-ordinate response more difficult.

“I have called on the Government to commission a review into the causes of injuries and fatalities at accident blackspots on the A19.

“I hope this review takes place sooner rather than later as delays will risk further loss of life and injury.

“There are also important issues about blue light ambulances being delayed due to accidents on the A19 and contra flows en route to accident and emergency departments.”

Mr Morris asked the Government what steps are being taken to increase patrols and speeding enforcement at accident blackspots, raising the issue with the Home Office in addition to transport chiefs.

Nick Hurd, the minister for state for the Home Department, replied: “This is an operational matter for the police.

“How they enforce the law, including road traffic law and how available resources are deployed, are the responsibility of individual Chief Constables, taking into account the specific local problems and demands with which they are faced.”

Mr Morris is also working to find out the cost of accidents from the Government.

Gary Ridley, Assistant Chief Officer at Durham Constabulary, said: “The main reason for a reduction relates to the imposition from government funding cuts which has resulted in the force employing fewer officers.

“The force has had to strike a balance between managing with less money and also ensuring adequate officer numbers are allocated to key areas of policing such as traffic officers, response officers, neighbourhood policing and also crime investigation.

“However, in order to minimise the impact of the reduction in officer numbers, we have joined with Cleveland Police to form a combined roads policing unit which has led to greater coverage on our roads.

“The force also carries out targeted action in respect of certain activities such as speeding and individuals who use their mobile phone whilst driving.

“We have also invested in the better use of technology, as well as increasing the use of volunteers in certain areas which frees up officer time to be used for other proactive activities.”

Details including dates, the number of vehicles and casualties and locations of collisions can be found via http://www.crashmap.co.uk/Search.