The dangerous nature of the A21 is coming under the spotlight again through a scheme aiming to have no road deaths in Europe tomorrow (Wednesday, September 21).
Emergency services are joining forces and campaigning across the county to get motorists to pledge to reduce the number of road fatalities as part of Project Edward – European Day Without A Road Death.
The main road from Hastings to the M25 was named as the highest risk road in England last year and there have been dozens of fatal accidents on it.
Battle firefighters will be visiting the Route 1066 Café and Blackbrooks Garden Centre on the A21, as well as car parks and lay-bys, to ask motorists to sign the pledge.
Surrey and Sussex Police are holding a day of action in support of the campaign run by TISPOL, the roads policing network for the continent.
Head of operations for Surrey and Sussex Police Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry said: “While we are fully supportive of this campaign, our aim is of course to have zero fatal collisions in Sussex every day; not just on September 21.
“There were 42 road fatalities in the county last year, and that is 42 too many.
“By supporting the TISPOL campaign, we are hoping to highlight the dangers of driving and the risks involved.
“Among some of the major contributory factors of fatal or serious collisions are drink or drug-driving, speeding, not wearing a seat belt and using a mobile device at the wheel.
“We have a zero tolerance to all of the above, and anyone caught breaking the law in any of these circumstances will be dealt with robustly.
“However, there are a vast number of other causes of collisions, which include not checking mirrors and blind spots, not looking at junctions, not taking weather conditions into account, not keeping enough distance from other vehicles, ignoring road signs and vehicle defects.
“It is vital that individuals take responsibility for their own vehicle and their own actions.”
Officers from the counties’ joint Roads Policing Unit will provide a high visibility presence and target traffic offenders as part of Project Edward.
But motorists are also being urged to play their part by following a few simple steps which could save their lives – and others’ – by signing the pledge.
The pledge includes a raft of promises to keep motorists safe on the roads, including keeping lights on, never drink or drug-driving, always wearing a seat belt and not using a mobile phone at the wheel.
Of the 42 fatalities in Sussex last year, 15 involved young people aged 16 to 24, 15 involved adults aged 25 to 59, and 12 involved people aged 60 and above.
Asst Chf Con Barry added: “Working with partner agencies including Sussex Safer Roads Partnership, our roads policing officers will be dedicated to ensuring the number of collisions is reduced to a minimum this Wednesday.
“We do a lot of proactive and reactive work throughout the year to raise awareness of the Highway Code and the essential rules of driving.
“But it is of course the drivers’ own responsibility to follow these rules, and by working together, we can all help to reduce the number of collisions.”
The danger of the A21 came to light again when Craig MacMenigall, 37, of Bexhill Road, St Leonards, died after crashing into a lorry at Kent Street on August 12, with Hastings resident Michael Smith compelled to set up a petition calling for improvements.
Two men ended up in hospital after a crash in Whatlington on June 20 and Pamela Gargaro, 73, from Kent, died in a head-on collision in Kent Street on July 1.
Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman backed proposals for average speed cameras on the A21 to improve safety in July, saying: “Whilst this measure may not be popular with some drivers, it is clear that we need to do something now to encourage drivers to keep to the speed limits which protect our communities along the A21 and other road users.
“Should this additional safety measure be implemented, we are pressing Highways England to consider reopening the duelled section north of Hurst Green in order to deliver both safety and extra road-space.”
Highways England named the road as the highest risk road in England in September and the authority implemented a number of measures to try and improve safety, including resurfacing and changing the speed limits.
That sparked major resurfacing works and a number of speed limits were changed in a bid to reduce the risk.
For more information about Project Edward and to sign the pledge, visit www.tispol.org/edward.
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