MOTORISTS have been warned dangerous u-turns at an accident blackspot where a former driving instructor was killed will be outlawed from next week.
Highways chiefs want to stop drivers performing the manoeuvres at the Sheraton Interchange, on the outskirts of Hartlepool, and new legislation comes into force on Monday, January 20.
Durham County Council has already improved the slip-road onto the A179 and installed a new traffic island in a bid to prevent drivers turning left towards Wingate before performing u-turns back towards Hartlepool in order to beat queuing traffic in the right-hand lane.
But drivers are now being warned about the prohibition of u-turn order over a 255ft stretch of the road and anyone seen flouting the law faces a fixed penalty notice or prosecution.
It comes into force just days after a Hartlepool Borough Council gritter was spotted doing the dangerous manoeuvre by a Mail reader on Saturday afternoon.
The safety measures were sparked after town man Colin Brown, 60, was killed at the spot in May. It is believed he was doing a u-turn when his Citroen C4 collided with a minibus full of passengers on the B1280 just yards from the Hart bypass.
Dave Wafer, strategic traffic manager at Durham County Council, said: “We have already introduced physical measures to try to reduce the potential for accidents in this location.
“A traffic regulation order will come into effect from Monday, January 20, which will make it an offence to perform a u-turn in the area defined by the traffic signs.
“Anyone seen performing a U-turn at this location after the order comes into force could be prosecuted by the police.”
Just days after Mr Brown died, the Hartlepool Mail snapped many other drivers carrying out the same risky manoeuvre. Last July, Joan Coulson, 85, from Durham, was killed when the car she was a passenger in collided with a black Mitsubishi Warrior on the A179.
Maxine Stubbs, traffic management officer for Durham Police, said: “Once the restriction on performing u-turns becomes legal our road policing unit will give the Sheraton area particular attention, especially at peak traffic times.
“Drivers should be aware that enforcement action will be taken and if they are caught they could be prosecuted.”
A Hartlepool Council spokesman said: “Our gritters have historically pulled into the lay-by on the A179 before turning round to head back to Hartlepool.
“However, given the new road layout and new restrictions on turning we are currently reviewing the situation.”