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Road safety improvement works are set to take place in Telford and Shropshire thanks to new funding. Telford and Wrekin Council announced that 35 schools will benefit from a £600,000 boost to improve road safety.
The scheme will deliver a range of road safety and traffic calming measures, including 20mph signing and speed indicator devices. Funding comes directly from the council’s Pride in Our Community Fund with improvements due to be delivered by summer 2019.
Schools not included have either recently or already have work scheduled or planned as part of other projects. This includes the Newport £300,000 package of improvements or Capital Programme investment. Road safety officers will be meeting with the schools over the coming months to discuss the schemes and address their specific needs and concerns.
£45 Million Investment in Telford
Telford has benefited from significant investment in 2017 thanks to £45 million set aside for a three year Pride in the Community program. The program of works includes maintaining footpaths, improving roads, major highways, high streets, parks and green spaces.
So far the scheme has been a success with the latest findings from the Department of Transport showing that the conditions of roads in the borough are better than the regional and national averages.
As the program continues through 2018/2019, Telford & Wrekin Council shall be investing £7.5million into delivering 340 schemes across the borough.
This will include improvements to roads, road safety schemes, road marking, improvements to paths and highways, parking, structural works and drainage improvements.
Councillor Shaun Davies, leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, said: “Understanding the issues that each school has will determine the types of safety schemes that are put in place. Whilst it can never be a one-size-fits-all approach, issues outside schools being raised do tend to be around speeds, pedestrian safety and inappropriate parking.
“Our road safety team has been working with schools to offer road safety advice and encourage children and their parents or guardians to travel to school on foot or bike, reducing the amount of traffic on the roads. They will continue to work with schools, as our road safety data shows that schools which actively engage with the team have fewer road safety incidents.
“This £600,000 investment will see a range of physical measures that will help to improve safety. We are also working on plans to take over new parking enforcement powers from the police in 2019. These powers will enable us to more effectively target problem parking around schools.”
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£4 million Improvements for Killer Road
Shropshire Council welcomed £3.8 million in funding from the Department of Transport’s Safer Road’s Fund to improve safety on the deadly A529 between Hinstock and Audlem.
The work is set to start before March 2019 and will involve various safety measures including junction improvements, and enhanced road markings and signage.
The DfT’s £100 million Safer Roads Fund will enable local authorities to improve the 50 most dangerous stretches of A roads in the country.
Steve Davenport, Cabinet member for highways and transport said: “This is great news and I welcome the award of this money that will enable us to carry out essential and much-needed safety work on this dangerous stretch of road.
“I’m delighted that our bid, combined with lobbying the government, has been successful and I look forward to work starting at the earliest opportunity.”
Collision Increase Sparks Road Safety Warning
In June, West Mercia Police warned motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to take extra care on the roads.
The safety message came after a number of recent crashes. Project Verrier is run by the county’s operating policing unit and targets those who cause most harm on the roads.
While Project Verrier sees enforcement action taken against those who consistently offend, it also aims to educate motorists, motorbike riders, cyclists and pedestrians around the importance of road safety.
The ‘Fatal Four’
As part of their work, the police want to raise awareness of the ‘fatal four’ things that are most likely to cause a serious collision. These are:
· Distractions, such as using a mobile phone
· Driving under the influence of drink or drugs
· Not wearing a seatbelt
Operations policing unit for Shropshire and Telford Inspector Nigel Webster said: "We want our roads to be safer for everyone, whether they are a motorist, passenger, cyclist, motorbike rider or pedestrian, it is important everyone considers road safety.
"Although it's important to stress not all but in most collisions where someone dies or is seriously injured the cause has been a driver has been speeding, distracted or driving while under the influence of drink or drugs, or those in the car were not wearing a seatbelt.
"We proactively target those committing these offences but more importantly we want them to think twice before they commit them. Speed limits are in place for a reason and we want motorists to stick to them, they have been set with the road, its conditions and volume of traffic in mind.
“A driver can easily lose control of the vehicle if they are driving too fast. Distractions and driving under the influence seriously impair the driver’s judgement, stopping times are affected and again they can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
"And, if the vehicle does become involved in a collision wearing a seatbelt, whether as a driver or passenger including sat in the back, can prevent serious injury or worse."
Increase in Numbers Seriously Injured
Steve Davenport spoke to JT Hughes about road safety improvements in the county and the reasons why we are seeing an increase in the numbers of seriously injured.
“Accident numbers in Shropshire remain at similar levels whilst reporting of those seriously injured has increased. This is mainly a result of changes of methodology and recording of slight and seriously injured which came into force in 2015.“
A review of Road Accident data for Killed and Seriously Injured also highlighted the change in methodology and how it has impacted figures:
“West Mercia Police changed to the CRASH system during December 2015. This approach uses a prescribed set of conditions to determine the scale of severity for casualties and relies less on the judgement of officers.
“It is likely that the reporting of injury severity is now more consistent and accurate, consequently this has shown an increase. Early indications of national data for 2015 and 2016 shows that this has led to an increase in the reporting of serious injuries by between 5 to 15%.”
“The increase in Shropshire has been 23% and data for 2017 shows a continued increase in the rate of seriously injured.”
More Traffic on the Roads
Steve said: “Population growth results in more traffic. Particularly in the county, we’re getting more houses which resulted in more traffic and an ageing population who’s at a greater risk of serious injury.”
He added that economic growth led to an increase in employment numbers and in turn, high levels of accidents between commuting hours 8am and 9am and 5pm and 6pm.
“All these are reasons why it’s happening. Pedal and motorcyclists are because at the time of year it’s really a busy county for that.”
A high percentage of roads in Shropshire are non-urban and aside from a few dual carriageways, they’re either A or B roads. Poor weather at the start of the year has also had an impact on road conditions.
“All of these key factors Shropshire Council are addressing and Highways are addressing and we’re continually monitoring and assessing anything that we can identify as a problem we’ll be fixing.
“We’re leaving no stone unturned to apply for grants for road improvements and that (A529) being one of them, North West relief road we’re still waiting on and we’re hoping for a good result this year. “
Task Force to Look Into Road Safety
A task force has been formed to look into the issue of road safety in Shropshire and what could be done to improve them.
The scrutiny meeting discussed the report analysing slight, serious and fatal road accidents in Shropshire. The report found that the number of accidents has remained at about 600 a year.
Shropshire Council’s performance management scrutiny committee to say it remains a ‘real, real problem’ and has called for further studies into the issue.
Councillors have requested a task force to be put together to tackle the ongoing and concerning issue of road safety in Shropshire.
The Shropshire Star reported Councillor Roger Evans for Longdon saying: “We’ve got a problem in Shropshire, a real, real problem which we actually need to do something about.”
“Our residents are getting killed and seriously injured.
“We would not be doing the right thing for our residents if we don’t look at this in some depth, we need a task and finish group.”