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Spate of crashes on NDR due to bad driving, not road's design, say council

PUBLISHED: 10:50 03 July 2018 | UPDATED: 08:41 04 July 2018

A commuter on the NDR spotted a car which had driven onto the North Walsham Road roundabout. Picture: Laura Bush

A commuter on the NDR spotted a car which had driven onto the North Walsham Road roundabout. Picture: Laura Bush

Laura Bush

Drivers going too fast, rather than the design of the roundabouts, are the reason for a number of crashes on the Broadland Northway, according to a council report.

Police are to step up monitoring on the road and a camera will be installed to track how people are driving at the Wroxham Road roundabout - one of the crash hotspots.

The £205m road, previously known as the Northern Distributor Road, was fully opened 11 weeks ago.

The county council says it has had lots of positive feedback, but has acknowledged the number of crashes at some roundabouts needs to be tackled.

Martin Wilby, chairman of the council’s environment, development and transport committee, said: “We’ve quite rightly been monitoring the Broadland Northway as we would do with any new scheme to see if there were any issues, save for the usual bedding in stage, as we know the people can take time to get used to a new route.

“Sadly, feedback does suggest that some drivers are not adhering to the speed limit, so I hope that by working with the police we can help to encourage people to drive more safely at all times of the day and night.

“I’m always keen to base decisions we make on evidence so we’ve been looking carefully at the evidence and will continue to do so. “As the road has been open for 11 weeks now we can see if any patterns seem to be emerging.

“A review of this suggests that some small adjustments will help drivers at the airport north roundabout.

“We also plan to complete more detailed traffic monitoring at the Wroxham Road roundabout and will continue to monitor the road generally to ensure we have a route that continues to serve Norfolk well for many years to come.”

According to the council review, the airport north roundabout and Wroxham Road roundabout are two locations where there has been a higher number of crashes than would usually be expected for a road designed to national standards and which passed a safety audit carried out by independent experts.

The council says issues appear to be speed related at the airport roundabout, where drivers run into the central island, and are also happening when people change lanes at the Wroxham Road roundabout. The council says there seems to be an issue with people approaching the airport north roundabout too fast and failing to slow down to negotiate the junction.

To deal with this, extra signs are to be put in place, while ones which have been damaged in previous crashes will be replaced.

And at the Wroxham Road roundabout, a traffic monitoring camera will be installed over the coming weeks.

Council officers say the camera will help the county council to see exactly how people are negotiating the roundabout and decide what could be done to help drivers.

But the council says the lack of lighting is not the problem.

They say there are no plans to install lighting along the route, as illuminated signs are already in place.

The council says accident data would suggest that people have also had incidents at the roundabout at the Postwick end of the route which does have lighting in place.

In May, driving instructor Martin Wright, of Thorpe St Andrew-based WrightLearn, expressed his concern over the roundabouts.

He said he regularly sees drivers cutting across lanes on the £205m road’s roundabouts and believed the design is confusing motorists.

He said: “The actual road itself, I really like, but the first time I used it I was surprised at the design of the roundabouts and the way people are driving around them.

“The fact that there are three lanes instead of two is causing confusion. If you’re going straight and you’re in the left lane, it takes quite a long time to get round some of the roundabouts. Some drivers end up crossing over and straddling both lanes, which can be dangerous.

“And, when you’re in that left lane going straight, there are times when fast cars coming from the right are going straight over and cutting people up.

“You end up driving very defensively, because you don’t feel safe. And I say that as an experienced driving instructor. I’m taking inexperienced drivers out on this road and I worry about them.”

The council says all the roundabouts have been designed to national standards and have been through a three stage Safety Audit process with the third stage carried out after opening, both in daylight and at night time.

They said these audits are carried out by independent road safety experts and usually include a police representative.

They said these audits did not pick up any significant issues with the roundabouts.

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