Is this Sunderland’s ‘crash alley’? Families fear for lives in accident blackspot

The aftermath of the crash in May 2015, in which three cars were written off - one belonged to David Carlton and the other two were his next door neighbours'.
The aftermath of the crash in May 2015, in which three cars were written off - one belonged to David Carlton and the other two were his next door neighbours'.
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Families say they are living in fear after a worrying number of road accidents on their street

People living in homes on Mill Terrace, which sits on the main B1284 North Road at Rainton Bridge, have reported a number of cars crashing into their gardens, demolishing fences, lampposts and writing off vehicles.

Mill Terrace resident David Carlton outside his home, which is becoming an accident balckspot.

Mill Terrace resident David Carlton outside his home, which is becoming an accident balckspot.

So far, the damage has been financial only - but residents fear it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt or even killed, as cars frequently mount the footpath outside their homes after losing control on a bend.

The common consensus among residents is that drivers do not stick to the 30mph speed limit on the road.

One of them, David Carlton, who has lived in the street for 11 years with wife Sandra, 52, has had three vehicles written off in just two years.

The 53-year-old, a windows and doors installation manager, decided to speak out after a car demolished a lamppost in front of his drive earlier this month.

Somebody will lose their life. We lie in bed listening for traffic, worrying when there is going to be another crash outside

David Carlton

The grandfather-of-two said: “A car with a young lady and a young man in it came down from Hetton.

“The car lost control on the corner and hit the lamppost, spraying glass and gravel onto my drive and the back of the wife’s car.

“The council came out and cut the lamppost down.

“The car had gone up the raised kerb and straight into the garden walls.”

The aftermath of the crash in May 2015, in which three cars were written off - one belonged to David Carlton and the other two were his next door neighbours'.

The aftermath of the crash in May 2015, in which three cars were written off - one belonged to David Carlton and the other two were his next door neighbours'.

It wasn’t the first accident he had reported. David’s van was hit on December 30, last year.

He said: “My works van was written off outside. It was between 11pm and 11.30pm.

“It hit my wrought iron fence with such force it brought it down and it ended up next door.”

And in July, 2015, nurse Sandra’s Mini was written off when parked outside the house.

The crash on December 30, 2016, in which David Carlton's works van was written off and his wrought iron fence damaged.

The crash on December 30, 2016, in which David Carlton's works van was written off and his wrought iron fence damaged.

David said: “A car came down from Hetton and lost control before the corner, it was caught on CCTV.

“It went sideways all the way along the footpath and hit the wife’s car. It ended up on the other side of the road, facing in the wrong direction.

“He said he wasn’t speeding either.

“Two months prior, again between 11pm and 11.30pm - it wasn’t wet and the driver swore he was doing 30 - my next door neighbours’ two brand new cars were on the drive.

“It hit one of them and pushed the second one onto my drive and wrote all three cars off.

“The main concern at the moment is speed. The limit is 30mph and people aren’t sticking to it.”

David has raised the issue with Sunderland City Council, but insists he has not been satisfied with the response.

A letter dated January 30, 2017, stated that the council carried out its most recent speed survey in November 2015.

It added that 85% of drivers did not exceed a speed between 32.6mph and 34.9mph in normal traffic conditions.

David said: “The letter from the council says it’s acceptable to go over the speed limit.

“The council also surveyed the traffic during peak times when people are less likely to speed because there is so much traffic on the road.

“The main problem is at night, people are going too fast from Hetton to Rainton.

“Within the last two years a house along the road was for sale and some people came to view it and their car was written off while it was parked outside.”

David said if nothing gets done, somebody is bound to lose their life, as all incidents have involved vehicles crashing over the footpath at speed.

He added: “If you are doing gardening, you are always listening out for traffic coming - you are always thinking about what could happen.

“God forbid anything bigger comes around the corner and I’ve got two grandchildren.

“My neighbour has put up bollards form extra protection, but that only helps so far.

“The only solution anybody in this street can think of is a camera. Anyone law-abiding would stick to the speed limit.

“They need to do something to slow people down, because it is putting people’s lives at risk and damaging our property.

“If it costs £30,000 to put a camera up it’s worth it.

“They must have written off £50,000 of vehicles last year. Then there’s the emergency services costs.

“Somebody will lose their life. We lie in bed listening for traffic, worrying when there is going to be another crash outside.

Sunderland City Councillor Michael Mordey, responsible for City Services, said: “The council thoroughly investigated Mr Carlton’s concerns when he initially raised them at the beginning of this year and carried out speed monitoring 24 hours a day over a seven day period.

“This showed no evidence of a significant speed problem there which is backed up by accident statistics which show that the last recorded accident was in November 2015.

“However, while the site does not currently meet the criteria for fixed speed cameras, we will pass on Mr Carlton’s concerns to the police operated mobile camera team to see if it’s something they could consider for their mobile cameras.”

Northumbria Police Neighbourhood Inspector Vicky Quinn said: “We’re aware of the concerns raised by residents and are working closely with Sunderland City Council to address these.

“A speed survey will be carried out by the council in due course.”