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Column 11th April 2018

How much should we spend to save lives on our roads?

In the Herald a few weeks ago, there was a letter from a Wantage resident concerned that a 13-year-old boy had been hit by a car on the pedestrian crossing near the junction of Naldertown and Ham Road. This occurred in the middle of the day on a Sunday and was made even more shocking by the fact that the car did not stop.

This matter has been taken up by County Councillor Jenny Hannaby and we understand that the Highways team will be fitting a barrier on the roadside where the footpath from the town centre meets Ham Road so that people cannot step directly onto the road here.

We don’t know if that happened but do know that dangerous driving is becoming common.

Many drivers are concentrating on missing potholes and are not putting all of their attention on what is happening on the road.

There was another incident recently on the pedestrian crossing next to Fitzwaryn School on the Denchworth Road where the front car stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross but the car behind didn’t.

It used to be that if someone was driving erratically it was likely that it was a drunk driver, now it is more likely to be someone avoiding pot holes.

Parked cars on the roadside can also be a hazard as pedestrians can be hidden between parked cars when they attempt to cross the road. At the same time, other traffic is waiting to drive past the parked vehicles.

Parking on yellow lines, in disabled bays, near a school entrance, at or near a bus stop or taxi rank, opposite or within 10 metres (32 feet) of a junction, except in an authorised parking space, near the brow of a hill, where the kerb has been lowered to help wheelchair users and powered mobility vehicles, or on a bend, is against the highway code, yet these things happen every day and no action is taken.

At the last Traffic Advisory meeting I was advised that there was no immediate solution to the parking enforcement issue. It is not a priority for the police and the District Council had declined to take on the parking enforcement because it estimated that there would be a cost of £750,000 involved.

At some point someone will be killed because of the dangerous driving or illegal parking in the town – so what is the cost of a life?


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