FIX FA­TAL FLAW ON BRIDGE

Lane con­fu­sion risks fur­ther deaths, coro­ner warns:

Bangor Mail - - FRONT PAGE -

ACORONER has told the Welsh Govern­ment that more peo­ple are likely to die un­less ac­tion is taken over safety con­cerns about the Bri­tan­nia Bridge.

Dewi Pritchard Jones said there had been other crashes nearly iden­ti­cal to the one in which a 31-year-old man was killed in Au­gust.

It emerged that po­lice had raised con­cerns with the govern­ment over the prob­lems back in Jan­uary, and safety im­prove­ments had been due to start days af­ter phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal rep Eli­jah Sho­tade was killed.

The coro­ner said it ap­peared mo­torists en­ter­ing the bridge were be­ing led to be­lieve they were still on a dual car­riage­way.

Mr Sho­tade, from the Mid- lands, died when his car col­lided with a lorry on the bridge while trav­el­ling west­bound.

He had over­taken two ve­hi­cles be­fore hit­ting the HGV on the east­bound car­riage­way. Coro­ner Mr Jones said mo­torists would be un­able to take eva­sive ac­tion be­cause of the bar­ri­ers. And he added he was con­cerned satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems that tell peo­ple to bear right could also be play­ing a part in mak­ing peo­ple be­lieve they had two lanes to drive in rather than just one.

Mr Jones said Mr Sho­tade hadn’t re­turned to his side of the bridge and con­tin­ued in the east­bound car­riage­way un­til he col­lided with a lorry.

He added: “My in­ves­ti­ga­tion, to date, shows that there have been nu­mer­ous, al­most iden­ti­cal, col­li­sions and in­ci­dents... (this) would sug­gest that mo­torists driv­ing west­bound, hav­ing been used to driv­ing along the dual car­riage­way of the A55, en­ter on to the Bri­tan­nia Bridge (which is not a dual car­riage­way) but seem to be­have as if the east­bound lane is the off­side lane of a dual car­riage­way.

“The re­sult of this is that they find them­selves in the east­bound car­riage­way of the bridge and, on leav­ing the bridge, they are un­able to turn to their near­side lane due to the pres­ence of bar­ri­ers. The sit­u­a­tion is made worse by many sat­navs di­rect­ing the mo­torists to ‘bear right’ on leav­ing the Bri­tan­nia Bridge.”

The Welsh Govern­ment said North Wales Po­lice first high­lighted a po­ten­tial is­sue last Jan­uary af­ter two in­ci­dents at the end of 2017.

One in­volved a se­ri­ous headon crash be­tween a Pol­ish man’s van, which went the wrong side of the cen­tral bar- rier, and a car. The sec­ond in­volved a west­bound ve­hi­cle en­ter­ing the wrong car­riage­way ap­par­ently be­cause of a sat-nav in­struc­tion, although no crash oc­curred.

Of­fi­cials said checks showed no pat­tern of sim­i­lar col­li­sions recorded in the pre­vi­ous five years. They de­cided, how­ever, to re­in­force safety.

Trag­i­cally, work was sched­uled to be­gin in Septem­ber.

The Welsh Govern­ment said work to ex­tend dou­ble white lines ban­ning over­tak­ing for the length of the bridge and lane di­rec­tion ar­rows had been com­pleted. Sign im­prove­ments would fol­low.

But of­fi­cials said driv­ers were re­spon­si­ble for obey­ing road mark­ings and signs and shouldn’t fol­low sat-navs if it could en­dan­ger oth­ers.

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