Lights change in bid to cut crashes along Thamesdown Drive
5:30am Saturday 21st June 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
PLANS are under way to change the traffic light system along Thamesdown Drive in a bid to cut the number of accidents.
The road, a dual carriageway stretching across North Swindon, has seen 48 crashes resulting in injury in just three years.
The figure includes a fatal accident last month when 33-year-old Paul Winters was killed and his father seriously injured near the turning into the Orbital shopping centre.
While the exact cause of that incident is still to be determined, drivers jumping red lights are thought to be the cause of many accidents on the busy road.
North Swindon residents regularly take to social media to complain of light-jumping incidents and now the council has decided to take action.
As it stands, the pattern of the traffic lights means it is common for drivers to catch a red at every junction. Therefore it is believed some drivers try to jump the lights to avoid this and have a smoother journey.
The council has now said it is looking at introducing a new system which means the lights will react according to the volume of traffic.
On top of this a new programme will be put in place designed to highlight the dangers of jumping red lights.
A Swindon Council spokesman said: “Thamesdown Drive is one of the busiest roads in the borough and there were 48 accidents resulting in injury between April 4, 2011 and March 31, 2014.
“The main cause of accidents during this period was drivers failing to comply with red traffic signals.
“We are planning to run a campaign warning motorists of the dangers of red light jumping and plans are also under way to introduce a new traffic signal control system.
“SCOOT (Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique) is an adaptive system which responds automatically to fluctuations in traffic flow through the use of on-street detectors to reduce delay and congestion.
“This is likely to provide an added safety benefit by ensuring a smooth flow of traffic and lessening the frustration of drivers who may be tempted to jump a red light.”
On top of this a meeting is due to take place between the highways department, local councillors and police in an attempt to come up with further ideas to improve road safety.
Coun Emma Faramarzi (Con, Priory Vale) welcomed the move.
She said: “I am pleased something is being done. Just this morning I saw a white van jump the light pulling out of Queen Elizabeth Drive to go across the road. All it would have taken was for it to be clipped and it would have been disaster.
“The figure we know about is already very high and there may be more that just aren’t reported so I am glad something is being done.
“I will be attending the meeting next week to represent the local residents and I just hope we can come up with something to reduce the very high number of accidents.”
Resident Kate Harding, 25, of Priory Vale, said while changing the lights was not the only option, it was a step in the right direction.
She said: “Anything positive which can be done can only help the situation as people go tearing down there at more than 50mph trying to beat the amber and red lights.
“What can’t happen though is stopping the police presence as that makes a big difference.
“We have seen them at all times of day so when drivers have seen them they tend to obey the rules.
“I’ve heard talk in the past of raising the speed limit which must certainly not happen.
“I think changing the lights will make a difference but it can’t be all they do.”
A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: “Members of the public have shared their safety concerns regarding Thamesdown Drive with the local Neighbourhood Policing Team and these have been listened to and acted upon.
“Officers patrol the road and the surrounding roads as part of daily duties and separate roads policing operations are held on Thamesdown Drive throughout the year.
“All concerns raised by the public will be listened to and taken seriously.”
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