Gazette campaign calls for Government inquiry into A19 safety after spate of crashes

Tailbacks are a regular problem on the A19 following collisions.
Tailbacks are a regular problem on the A19 following collisions.

Today, we are launching a new campaign calling on the Government to improve safety on the A19.

Our campaign is pressing the Department for Transport to listen to the voice of the North East and launch an inquiry into safety on the A19 over the number of collisions which put lives at risk and bring us to a halt all too often.

In addition to signing our petition, campaigning MP Grahame Morris wants you to send your views directly to highways chiefs to get the message across that we have had enough.

The campaign has been welcomed by Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn, who said “the Government need to take action so that everything possible is done to prevent injuries and fatalities”.

The appeal comes on the back of two serious collisions within the space of just a few days.

Two people were left seriously hurt in Monday night’s four-vehicle smash on the northbound carriageway a short distance from the B1404 Seaton Lane, which left the road closed for six hours.

Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn.

Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn.

Yesterday, just before 9am a six-car pile up near to the A1018 sliproad from Ryhope at Seaham closed the southbound route for more than an hour, leaving thousands of vehicles in a jam which trailed back to Sunderland.

Figures of fatal, serious and slight injury accidents during 2016 are still being calculated and confirmed, but initial statistics show that between the Wolviston interchange and Testo’s Roundabout at Boldon, there have been around 36 collisions involving 88 vehicles, causing 71 injuries, with six of those smashes classed as serious.

Figures for the year before there were three deaths on the road, 41 serious crashes and 275 slight, with six of the serious collisions on the section between Boldon and Seaham.

Statistics going back to 2011 show there are about 300 collisions along the full stretch of the A19 each year.

Northbound traffic at a standstill on the A19 following an incident.

Northbound traffic at a standstill on the A19 following an incident.

The inquiry has been proposed by Easington MP Grahame Morris, with the road the main artery linking up the towns and villages he represents.

Mr Morris, who faced delays to reach an event he was attending yesterday morning due to the collision, has already began to tweet the department – @transportgovuk – calling for action and urges others to follow his lead using the hashtags #A19 #RoadSafety #InvestInTheNorth and #SafeA19.

We have also launched a petition via Change.org to gather support for the campaign.

He said: “I want them to recognise the fact that we have got a disproportionate number of accidents on that part of the A19, especially the section from Seaham, through Sunderland and to Testo’s Roundabout.

Easington MP Grahame Morris.

Easington MP Grahame Morris.

“I want them to do an huge inquiry and I want them to look at the causes and reasons there are so many incidents, and I know people have commented already on what they believe it is down to.

“It could be a combination of an increase in users and often it’s down to weather conditions, although the most recent crash happened on a nice day, and the slip roads, with some of them not long enough.

“The length of slip roads is also an important issue at the service station at Hawthorn, or Easington as it’s now known, because its slip roads are very short and it’s really difficult for people to get back onto the carriageway. It’s also an important route for Nissan.

“For the minister to say it’s for the police to enforce, when Durham has lost 25% of its budget and 478 officers since 2010, it’s a bit of a cop out. The police need more resources.

“The department has also said £75million will be spent on improving road safety and will go on 50 ‘A’ roads, but how much of that will be going on the A19? How much of that money will be going to the south and the south east? The accident yesterday was not a one-off, it’s a regular occurrence.

“There are other causes of these accidents and we want to get to the bottom of it. There are also economic costs, it’s not just that we are later to our meetings and jobs.

“Using the A19 regularly, it’s apparent the sheer volume of traffic is an issue.

“Social media is one way we can try to get something done, so we want as many people as possible to send messages.

“Something has to be done about this.”

Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn said: “I would certainly welcome a review into these accident blackspots on the A19.

“The safety of drivers and passengers on our roads should be of the utmost importance, and in my opinion the Government need to take action so that everything possible is done to prevent injuries and fatalities.”

Our petition can be signed HERE.