Fears despite safety promises
WHY are crashes still happening at Felixstowe's dock spur roundabout – especially when highways chiefs say there is nothing wrong with the junction?And how many more people will be injured, or even killed, before proper action is taken stop these horrific accidents?Those are the two key questions The Evening Star and campaigners are asking today after another juggernaut flipped over at the notorious A14 junction.
WHY are crashes still happening at Felixstowe's dock spur roundabout – especially when highways chiefs say there is nothing wrong with the junction?
And how many more people will be injured, or even killed, before proper action is taken stop these horrific accidents?
Those are the two key questions The Evening Star and campaigners are asking today after another juggernaut flipped over at the notorious A14 junction.
Highways chiefs still insist there is no problem with the roundabout and the crashes are down to driver error, faulty vehicles and poor loading.
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But if that is so, why do they always happen at this roundabout and not at others in the area?
The Copdock A12 roundabout, for example, has no history of poorly loaded or faulty trucks tipping over – many of those heading for Felixstowe port have already used this junction without problem.
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There have now been 17 similar accidents in six years three incident in the past six months.
When car driver Martin O'Sullivan was crushed to death a year ago by a toppling container, everyone expected major action.
What did we get? A few new signs costing £25,000 and a week later another lorry went over, blocking the Candlet Road exit to Felixstowe.
Since then, two more lorries have flipped, and another lost its load, which landed plumb in the middle of the inside lane and could have crushed a car.
Now the Highways Agency is planning to spend a further £35,000 on road markings, and has no plans for any major changes to protect motorists from the lorry accident or improve the design of the roundabout.
Yesterday morning's accident could have caused carnage had it happened any other rush-hour except this week, half-term, with many people on holiday and no children being ferried to school.
It is almost certain there would have been people killed or maimed.
The 38-tonne truck tipped on to its right-hand side wheels as it tried to turn left from the port to Ipswich and careered across the junction and overturned on the verge just before the entrance from Ipswich.
Mayor of Felixstowe, Malcolm Minns said the latest accident just added to the catalogue of evidence which says something must be done.
"As far as I am concerned, it lends considerable more weight to the case which says that not enough has been done and that we need something more effective and more dramatic to solve the problems of this roundabout," he said.
"The town council has received the final report from the research which was done into the roundabout and we were disappointed and felt the result and action which was proposed was a fait accompli."
The council has written to ask for the 20mph signs to be moved to give more warning to lorries approaching the junction from Ipswich and will discuss the matter and further comments again soon.
"The town council will not desist from making comments about this roundabout until some proper action is taken," he said.
"I am sorry to hear that a lorry driver and his vehicle tipped over at the roundabout but I almost welcome it as it is continuing evidence that the problem has not yet been solved."
Felixstowe town and district councillor Andy Smith passed the accident seconds after it happened.
"If I had not been a couple of minutes late I would have been on that road when the lorry came across it – it's only by the grace of God that no-one was on that road and we have not had another fatal," he said.
"This accident simply underlines the total inadequacy of the highways agency's response to the problem.
"They have a responsibility for human life at this junction and if accidents are one in a million, as they say, everyone in Felixstowe would have won the National Lottery by now. The community has a right to expect better.
"Even the Port of Felixstowe recognises it as a serious problem and has offered to give some money to help pay for safety work."
The lorry accidents do not happen in just one place at the roundabout and vehicles have flipped over at three different locations.
The Highways Agency is planning to work with the port authorities and haulage industry to try to improve the loading of containers, and wants to see lorry drivers prosecuted if vehicles have faults.
It says that major work to change the design of the roundabout could solve the problems, but may create new types of accidents elsewhere on the junction.