Our roads ‘must be improved’

ROAD safety campaigners have called for more investment and simple improvements after a report revealed North-East roads are among the most dangerous in the country.

ROAD safety campaigners have called for more investment and simple improvements after a report revealed North-East roads are among the most dangerous in the country.

A star safety rating by motoring group the IAM Trust revealed parts of the A68, A69 and the A1 north of Newcastle were some of the worst in the UK.

Only two stars, out of a maximum of four, were awarded to the A68 running through Durham and Northumberland, and only two stars were given to the A69 running from Hexham to the M6 in Cumbria.

The report’s detailed breakdown of which parts of the A1 presented the biggest risk to motorists has prompted campaigners to renew calls for the road to be upgraded. In single carriageway parts of the road two stars were awarded. Dualled sections were given three.

Coun Tony Reid, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, said the ratings were unacceptable and called for more investment in the essential route.

“These latest statistics will add to the existing body of evidence that to have a main route between Newcastle and Edinburgh as long stretches of single lane is unacceptable in 2007.

“As well as safety, there is a growing recognition that the A1 is central to the regeneration of the North-East. We will continue to campaign for full dualling.”

Tyne Bridge MP David Clelland who sits on the Transport Select Committee, said the A1 had a “terrible safety record which obviously needs real improvements, including dualling throughout.”

Dr Steve Lawson, technical director of EuroRAP, the organisation which introduced the star system to the UK alongside the IAM Trust, said: “Our first report shows clearly that many roads do not provide satisfactory injury protection.

“Dysfunctional one and two-star main roads have death rates at least 10 times higher than other roads and are commonplace in the UK.”

The Highway’s Agency, which supported the research, said improvements were ongoing.

A spokesman said: “We are on track to achieve the Government’s target for safety of a 33% reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured by 2010.

“UK roads remain amongst the safest in the world.”

Comment: Page 10

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