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Archive - Wednesday, 13 February 2002
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No longer the Devil's highway
LOWER speed limits and safety improvements on St Peter's Way have been hailed a major success.
The number of crashes on the problem road, nicknamed the "Devil's Highway" due to its appalling accident rate and A666 road number, have fallen dramatically and council officials say at least one life has been saved.
Before the safety scheme was completed at the start of 2000 the dual carriageway was recording 26 crashes a year with 40 people being injured.
On average at least one person died on the road every two years and the crash rate was three times higher than other motorways in the borough.
Major changes included reducing the speed limit from 70mph to 50mph, installing speed cameras, reducing on-slip roads to single lanes and improving safety fencing as well as banning cyclists from the route.
Delighted council officials have revealed that after two years accidents have reduced by 60pc and injuries have fallen by 66pc.
There have been no fatalities or serious injuries and accident rates are expected to fall even more this year now drivers are used to the changes.
"Right from the implementation of the 50mph speed limit, drivers have responded to it with reduced speed and have seen the benefit in safety and, indeed, reduced driving stress," said Andy Irwin, team leader in road safety engineering.
He added that the reduction in accidents was roughly in line with what had been forecast.
"But that was our most optimistic prediction," he said.
"We are pleased with the way drivers have responded to the measures. They appear to understand, by their behaviour, the reasons for what we have done."
Cllr Peter Johnston, chairman of the environment and direct services committee, admitted he had originally not believed the safety scheme would work.
"I was very sceptical about St Peter's Way but this report proves I was wrong," he said.
Cllr Roger Heyes added that council officials should be "congratulated for their foresight".