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Concern over deaths on Norfolk’s roads prompts new approach to safety

Changes on the A1151 have seen the road described as one of the most improved in Europe. Photo: Steve Adams

Changes on the A1151 have seen the road described as one of the most improved in Europe. Photo: Steve Adams

Concerns over the number of deaths and serious injuries on Norfolk’s roads looks likely to spark a fresh approach to road safety in the county.

Margaret Dewsbury, Conservative chairman of Norfolk County Council's communities committee. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.Margaret Dewsbury, Conservative chairman of Norfolk County Council's communities committee. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

On average, 402 people every year, or about 34 each month, are seriously injured or killed in crashes on Norfolk’s roads and a group of Norfolk county councillors has been looking at whether the current approach to keeping people safe is working.

They have concluded that a new way of working - known as Safe Systems - should be introduced, which accepts that people will make mistakes.

Instead, the new approach will look at a wider way of preventing crashes, rather than the current focus which tends to be on trying to influence driver behaviour.

It will consider all factors, such as the state of roads, vehicles, speed and the way roads are used - although the council concedes no extra money will be available, unless specific grants can be obtained.

A report which will go before councillors states: “We have a limited budget for highways work, therefore the system wide budget must be prioritised.

“Realism is needed around likely levels of investment in local safety schemes balanced against maintenance costs.”

But they say an indication that the new approach will work is that the A1151 between Norwich and Smallburgh has just been announced as one of the most improved roads in Europe.

From July 2008 to June 2013, Norfolk police recorded 59 personal injury accidents, of which 20 were killed or serious injury, on the road.

But a Safe Systems approach was taken, with a speed camera installed, a passing bay at a black-spot junction, triggered warning and speed reduction signs and changes to road markings and traffic signs.

In the three years since, there have been six crashes, of which one was serious and there have been no deaths.

The council’s communities committee will be asked to change their approach to the Safe Systems model when they meet next week.

Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of the council’s communities committee, said: “The current approach has not produced the results we need here in Norfolk so we are keen to try something new.

“‘Safe Systems’ is recognised globally as being the forefront of road safety.”

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