Traffic calming helping to keep accidents down

TRAFFIC calming steps at known accident blackspots are being heralded as the key to a significant reduction in deaths and serious injuries on North Somerset’s roads.

New figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT) this week show such injuries dropped from 57 cases in 2010 to 46 in 2011.

This continues a downward trend which has seen deaths and injuries fall in five out of the last six years from a worrying high of 81 back in 2005.

What makes the 19 per cent drop in North Somerset’s figures all the more impressive, is that it comes against a backdrop of a national increase in road deaths and injuries.

North Somerset Council, which is responsible for the 1,100km of roads across the district, believes measures to cut accidents at problem areas are partly to thank.

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The authority has increased traffic calming measures in Barrow Gurney, and been rewarded with a drop from 19 road injuries in the three years leading up to the changes, to just two in the three years since.

More recently, improving the skid resistance on a problem bend in Backwell’s West Town has also seen a significant reduction in accidents.

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The authority’s executive member for highways, Elfan Ap Rees, welcomed the new figures but stressed its officers are not being complacent and will strive to cut that number even further.

He said: “Any death or serious injury on our roads is one too many, but we are working hard to bring these figures down and to make our roads as safe as possible.

“Highways schemes are therefore designed with safety in mind, with some specifically looking at safety aspects such as realistic speed limits with vehicle activation signs replacing speed cameras to help change driver behaviour.

“Safety improvements have to be aimed at pedestrians and cyclists as well as vehicle users and include installing pedestrian crossings, tactile surfacing at crossing points, pavement and footway improvements, drainage improvements to prevent road surface water, improvements at junctions, road markings and road layout.

“We are also keen to educate schoolchildren from an early age to respect and use cycleways where available and dedicated road crossings.”

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