DRIVERS using one of Worcestershire’s most dangerous stretches of road have slashed their speed – thanks to the installation of new high-tech cameras.
The 70mph stretch of the A449 Worcester to Kidderminster road has claimed many lives, including five in the past three years.
But now, thanks to the installation of three digital speed cameras, drivers are finally putting on the brakes.
The cameras – situated on the north and southbound carriageways near King’s Hawford School and a third on the southbound carriageway near the turning to Hadley – were put up eight months ago, at a cost of £180,000.
They are linked via broadband to the Safer Road Partnership in Worcester.
Before the cameras: l Twenty per cent of vehicles exceeding the 70mph speed limit l Average speed of drivers was 61mph l Fifteen per cent of motorists exceeding 72mph After the cameras: l Less than one per cent exceeding the speed limit l Average speed of drivers is 54mph l Eighty-five per cent of vehicles are travelling at 62mph or less Before enforcement began, there was an average of almost two collisions per year resulting in death or serious injury.
Vicki Bristow, communications manager for the Safer Roads Partnership in West Mercia said: “It is too soon to draw any real conclusions but over the eight months since enforcement began, there have been no collisions on the national speed limit stretch of the above road resulting in death or serious injury.
“It is certainly good news from our point of view as the cameras are really doing the job and bringing the speeds down.”
However, Jim Turner, headteacher of King’s Hawford School, said that while it was a good thing speeds had been cut by the cameras, motorists continued to speed up in between the cameras.
“From observing them, the vehicles still seem to be going very fast and you just have to see the brake lights go on by the cameras,” he said.
“Outside our school it is very difficult still for the parents and teachers to exit.
“It isn’t just a speeding issue for us.
“I don’t believe that having a 70mph limit outside a school junction is good and I hope this will be reviewed.” Between the beginning of October 2004 and the end of September 2007 there were 33 casualties on the stretch of road, including five fatalities, four serious injuries and 24 slight injuries.
Among those to lose their lives on the road were Joanne Bibby, aged 17, Stephanie Goodall, 16, Kyle Gadsby, 18 and Martyn Pickering, 18 who died in December 2006 when their car hit a tree. An inquest ruled the excessive speed of the car was the sole reason for the deaths.
In January last year, Ian Ballard of Abberley, near Stourport-on-Severn, died when the blue 4x4 in which he was travelling hit a tree just a mile from the crash that killed the teenagers.