Forty Foot Road: There must be high-tech solution to old problem

I READ with interest Pc Mick McCready s comments regarding the impracticality of imposing an overtaking ban along the Forty Foot Bank road (February 22). Let s have some lateral thinking. Surely, in this high-tech age, it s not beyond the wit of the area

I READ with interest Pc Mick McCready's comments regarding the impracticality of imposing an overtaking ban along the Forty Foot Bank road (February 22). Let's have some lateral thinking.

Surely, in this high-tech age, it's not beyond the wit of the area's computer/electronics boffins to come up with a simple solution, such as magnetic strips imbedded into the double line down the middle of a road which, when activated, trigger a camera.

If speed enforcement cameras (Specs) are already available, and there is only one needed to cover the most dangerous three-mile stretch of the road, shouldn't it be possible to link the two technologies together?

As this stretch of road is so dangerous, forget the normal paltry fixed penalty fines for speeding, and/or inappropriate overtaking. Make the fines draconian. Hit where it hurts - in the pocket.

A fixed penalty fine of £100 for speeding, £500 for overtaking and, should someone be foolish enough to be caught at both, £1,000. If they can't pay, impound their vehicle until they can. That's another life saved.

I am sure that a dozen or so well publicised cases of drivers having such severe fines imposed would bring a swift reduction to the reckless abandon of some thoughtless individuals.

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You could also make it a toll road for two or three years instead of closing it. Based on your published traffic figures, I've calculated that it would raise in excess of £1.5million a year - more than enough for the necessary road improvements which Cambridgeshire County Council says are too expensive to implement.

M W FERENTZ, Benwick

* THE ongoing issue relating to the recent tragic deaths may never be fully resolved, whichever option may be decided upon by the county council, but the erection of a safety barrier the full length of this lethal road comes top of my choice.

The argument is that such a barrier would bounce cars back on to the opposite side of the road, into oncoming traffic, whereas on the river side, once the 2ft-wide verge has been crossed, there is no escaping a plunge into deep water.

As constant dredging of the dyke has eroded the bank, making the problem worse, the authorities responsible for this dredging should make some financial contribution to this safety barrier.

It has been reported one fatal accident can cost the community in the region of £1million which, if avoided, would surely cover much of the cost of such a barrier.

Installation of safety cameras will not prevent accidents, although it may encourage many drivers to reduce their speed. Unfortunately, cameras cannot stop tragic deaths happening once an accident is in progress. Closure of the road would obviously stop accidents but this is an important route, connecting Chatteris to Ramsey, with several properties that rely on it for access, so that is not really an option.

I hope the investigation being carried out by the county council is a serious attempt to produce a practical result in the near future, and not just a paper exercise to pacify the public.

Councillor PAT TAYLOR, Former Mayor of Ramsey

* THERE are very few dangerous roads in this country and the Forty Foot is not, in my experience, one of them.

Accidents are usually caused by careless - even reckless - drivers and those who are not aware of the particular characteristics of the road. I think all these factors are present with the Forty Foot.

With respect to two of the solutions proposed, speed limits are invariably ignored by most drivers unless backed up by cameras, and the cost of the installation of barriers will be beyond the means of our cash-strapped councils and would not stop vehicles going over them or ricocheting into oncoming traffic.

The only cost-effective solution is prominent, well-sited notices warning drivers of the unusual nature of the road together with recommended speed limits. This is done with blind summits, sharp corners, steep gradients and adverse camber in many other parts of the country.

C WILLIAMS, St Hugh's Road, Buckden

* I HAVE used this road for more than 40 years quite regularly for both business and pleasure and have seen the usage increase out of all proportion to the original local road.

The speeding culprits are not just the young or local residents. Ridiculously large lorries charge down this road, as well as cars, all blissfully unaware of the dangers.

While anything to improve the safety record would be welcome, the only thing that, in my opinion, would work are barriers on the bank similar to those on the medians of dual carriageways or motorways.

Cameras do not assist a driver bullied off the road by another, very often much larger, vehicle and, if barriers are more expensive, then so be it. This is not an issue for the local authority penny-pinching.

I fished the Forty Foot for many years and had rods and poles smashed on the grass verge away from the road surface and felt it only a matter of time before a vehicle came off the road into the river - taking me and all my tackle with it.

Unless an incident is witnessed, most vehicles will just disappear below the surface.

BILL GARNER, Romney Court, Eaton Ford

* NOT having seen the original report in your paper, I am puzzled that not all possible options for improving the safety of this stretch of treacherous road have been offered to the public to vote upon.

I personally consider that "improving" the lighting could possibly be counter-productive by creating an even greater hazard, encouraging night-time drivers to drive even faster than they would previously have done.

Ultimately, barriers were erected along the A14 a few years ago after so many fatalities and, while this has no doubt reduced, but not eradicated, the problem, they are the only effective way to prevent cars dropping into the water. They would ultimately be more cost-effective, saving lives and reducing the number of tragedies that have affected so many families.

Mrs S M CARRINGTON, Quince Cottage, Wistow

* MY daughter and son-in-law, who live in Benwick, both use this very dangerous road going to and from work five days a week, when traffic is at its worst.

I worry very much about them having to do this.

A road of this kind without crash barriers in this day and age is without reason. There is no question of money not being available. Money collected from taxes paid by motorists should be used to improve roads and not milked to pay for other Government spending, which has been done from just after the start of taxing motor vehicles.

Of the total of vehicle taxation money collected, only a small percentage is returned each year to the purpose it should be used for - making roads safe in all conditions for today's traffic use.

Action not excuses. Money not lives.

G P BISHOP, Woking

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