Yet another safety plea has been made to drivers using the Holy Island causeway as exasperation grows over their continued failure to heed warnings.
Despite new flashing hazard signs being placed at both ends of the ancient roadway last year, foolhardy motorists are still ignoring them and getting trapped by the tides.
Yesterday, as Northumberland County Council issued a new plea for people to cross the causeway safely, one local rescue official said yesterday he is “lost for words” at the continuing refusal of drivers to take note of advice.
The new variable message signs, which flash warnings and information to drivers about to use the causeway at dangerous times, were installed on a permanent basis last October following a successful trial.
Despite this, a coach carrying 40 passengers tried to negotiate the crossing while it was under several feet of water last month, damaging the vehicle and passengers’ luggage.
And just over a week ago two drivers had to be warned within minutes of each other about the dangers of driving across the flooded causeway, after they set off an hour after the safe crossing time.
Now – in the wake of the most recent incidents – county council officials have again stressed the need for drivers to take note of safety advice. At the start of the peak summer holiday period, with more and more visitors heading over to Holy Island, the council is reminding motorists to carefully check safe crossing times, and make sure they have enough time to complete the whole trip across the causeway.
Seahouses lifeboat spokesman, Ian Clayton, said the station’s crews have not been called to a single incident on the causeway this year, so it appeared that the upgraded warnings were proving successful.
“However, I am aware there have been several incidents there recently and the fact is, you can’t legislate for stupidity. It’s bizarre but some people seem to believe that if they are inside a car they are immune to any dangers. It’s actually ridiculous that people can continue to totally disregard these warning signs, and I’m lost for words really.
“As far as we in the RNLI are concerned, the new signs seem to be working, but I don’t think you’ll ever have anything that is 100%. It’s human nature that some people will disregard signs and safety advice, and think they know better.”
Coun Dave Ledger, deputy leader of the county council, said: “It is imperative that people adhere strictly to the safe crossing times. Those who don’t know the area can sometimes think it’s still safe to cross when it definitely isn’t, and one or two incidents recently have clearly illustrated this.
“Drivers can check the safe crossing times on our website before they leave home, or from a mobile device. The times are clearly shown on boards at both sides of the causeway, and the large, flashing solar powered signs give very clear indication of whether or not it is safe to cross.
“We urge people for their own safety, as well as potential cost and inconvenience, to stay safe when crossing.”