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Improvements expected to be approved for Horns Bridge roundabout signs

Tuesday, November 19th, 2019 4:28pm

By Eddie Bisknell- Local Democracy Reporter @EddieBisk

Image courtesy of Google Street View

Dozens of driving instructors have succeeded in their call to the council to make changes to a notorious Derbyshire roundabout to reduce crashes.

Horns Bridge Roundabout in Chesterfield is perhaps one of the most infamous junctions in the county, or even the region.

The large roundabout on the south-east side of Chesterfield has five arms and sees the joining of the A61; A617 (the town’s main and busiest through-routes) and Spire Walk.

It is well-known to be particularly complicated to navigate and is the site of numerous near misses on a daily basis.

Now, 26 advanced driving instructors have put pen to paper and signed a petition, submitted to Derbyshire County Council, calling for changes to the signs surrounding the roundabout.

They claim that the advanced direction signs are to blame for much of the confusion and danger on the roundabout and have called for changes.

Council officers say that the roundabout sees 75,000 vehicles pass through it on a typical weekday.

They agree that making changes to advanced direction signs would allow motorists to make earlier decisions on which lane they need to get in – cutting down on late changes and near misses.

Officers say that from June 2016 to May 2019, there have been nine crashes on the roundabout – all of a “slight severity” – which they say is “considered good” when considering the number of vehicles that use it every day.

The council’s cabinet member for highways, Cllr Simon Spencer, is due to host a meeting on Thursday, November 21 to agree to spend £10,000 to make the sign changes.

A report on the issue says that the advanced driving instructors had called for: “Amendments to be made to the destination wording on existing advanced direction signs situated on the A617 on the approach to the roundabout, together with new signage installed on the A617 further back from the roundabout.

“There was also a request for improvements to be made to advanced direction signs when approaching the roundabout from the A61 southbound.”

Council officers said in the report: “Whilst officers feel that the current destination signage and lane markings are adequate to allow a motorist to select the correct lane and negotiate the roundabout, additional place name information on the advanced direction signs on the A61 southbound and A617 westbound approaches would be helpful in allowing a motorist to make an earlier decision over which is the correct lane to select prior to entering the roundabout.

“As is alluded to by the petitioner, part of the issue is caused by drivers ignoring the information given to them over which is the correct lane to select depending on their chosen destination, resulting in a late change of lane.

“Unfortunately, it is common driver behaviour to try to beat queuing traffic by swapping lanes at the last possible moment.

“However, recognising that improvements to advanced direction signage could reduce collision numbers, it is recommended that these works be carried out.”

We spoke to driving instructor, Chris Marples, who sent a letter backed by other Chesterfield instructors last year. He told us many drivers cut across lanes unsafely on the junction, especially travelling towards the town centre from the A617 by-pass.

He said: "The signage on the roundabout doesn't say much about 'town centre.' People pick the right hand lane up without really reading the signs. When they realise they can't get to the town centre from that lane, they will try and cut across at the last minute.

"Sometimes it is through lack of knowledge, sometimes it is deliberate to try and beat traffic. An instructor a few years ago was involved in a collision where he went head-on into the barrier. There's been one or two instructors involved in minor collisions. 

"When parents get in touch with us to teach their 17-year-old's to drive we've got a massive responsibility for their safety. We do our best to play our part in that and other divers need to play their part.

"I'm glad the county council are listening to the concerns that we've raised and that they are actually considering making these alterations. Anything that improves safety has got to be a good thing

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