Flashing signs don't stop truckers

FAMILIARITY breeds contempt – and it's certainly true for truckers using Felixstowe's deathtrap dock spur roundabout, according to a new report today.Traffic experts monitoring the speed of lorries approaching the junction have found more are now going faster and the new vehicle-activated flashing warning signs are not having as much impact as three months ago.

FAMILIARITY breeds contempt - and it's certainly true for truckers using Felixstowe's deathtrap dock spur roundabout, according to a new report today.

Traffic experts monitoring the speed of lorries approaching the junction have found more are now going faster and the new vehicle-activated flashing warning signs are not having as much impact as three months ago.

Highways officials feared once drivers got used to seeing the signs light-up to warn them of their speed, they would take less notice of them.

Drivers become used to seeing signs and even though the flashing ones showing a lorry tipping warn them they are going too fast, it seems some have slipped back to old habits.

In the past seven years there have been 21 incidents of trucks rolling over or shedding their loads. In 2001 motorist Martin O'Sullivan was killed when an articulated lorry landed on top of his car.

The Highways Agency has commissioned a series of speed studies to see the trucks' reaction.

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The first three months after the sign on the eastbound carriageway was put in was very positive and showed the speed of heavy lorries cut significantly.

But the latest six monthly report shows the opposite and drivers are now "less cautious".

Experts Atkins, Highways and Transportation, measured the speed of 124 lorries in free-flowing traffic at 150 metres from the junction - where the sign activates if the juggernaut is doing more than 38mph - and then at 100m and the entry point to the roundabout.

While more lorries are going slower at the 150m mark (51 per cent are travelling at more than 38mph compared with 54pc three months ago) they are going faster than they should as they approach the roundabout.

The number travelling at more than 25mph at the entry point has increased from 15pc to 22pc.

The average speed at the entry to the roundabout remained the same - 23mph, a two mph reduction from the situation before the signs went up.

The report said: "The results indicate that drivers are less cautious in their approach to the roundabout compared to the July survey as speeds have increased at 100m before the roundabout and entry points."

A further study will be taken in April once the sign has been in place a year.

A second flashing sign has now been put on the Ipswich-bound carriageway for truckers leaving the port. The pair, plus work on other signs, cost £106,000 and the Port of Felixstowe contributed £36,000.

The aim of the work was to target truckers whose vehicles were at risk of rolling over and speed was a major factor, though loading of the vehicles, driver error and other issues all play a part.

n Have lorries cut their speed at the dock spur - what's your experience? Write to Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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