No turning back – U-turns to be banned at Hartlepool junction where instructor was killed

MAKING CHANGES: A19 junction with A179
MAKING CHANGES: A19 junction with A179

DANGEROUS u-turns at an accident blackspot where a former driving instructor was killed are set to be outlawed.

Highway chiefs are taking action to stop drivers taking their lives in their hands by performing the manoeuvre at the Sheraton Interchange on the outskirts of Hartlepool.

The move by Durham County Council comes less than six months 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.

The county council says the action has been prompted by a series of accidents in the area, but say major changes to the junction may be needed in the future.

Construction of a traffic island has also started to prevent drivers doing u-turns.

In July, 85-year-old Joan Coulson, from Durham, was killed when the car she was a passenger in collided with a black Mitsubishi Warrior on the A179.

Then just days later a three-car smash happened near the A19 northbound turnoff which saw a man taken to hospital with spinal injuries.

The bid for a prohibition of u-turn order over a 255ft stretch of the road has been welcomed by a Hartlepool motoring organisation and road safety charity Brake.

Dave Wafer, Durham County Council’s strategic traffic manager, said: “We have analysed the accident history in this location and we feel that installing lines and signs together with a no u-turn restriction will help us to address some of the issues.

“This is something we can do relatively quickly to ease the situation, but we are aware there may be longer term problems which could only be addressed with a more substantial change to the junction.”

Just days after Mr Brown died and 11 bus passengers were injured, the Hartlepool Mail snapped many other drivers carrying out the same risky manoeuvre.

In the space of just an hour, our photographer witnessed at least a dozen motorists using the left-hand slip lane to come off the A19 northbound to beat queuing traffic in the right-hand lane for Hartlepool.

Drivers were pulling off the slip road as if travelling to Wingate, but just a few yards up the road make a u-turn to head towards Hartlepool.

Ged O’Hare, chairman of Hartlepool Advanced Motorists, welcomed the proposal for a u-turn ban.

He said: “I think it’s a good idea and am pleased that the county council are looking at it.

“I back it all the way. Everyone should drive within the guidance of the Highway Code.

“Doing u-turns is not worth taking the risk. It is better to be 10 minutes late than dead.”

Brake spokesman Joe Burns said: “Driving is one of the most dangerous things that we do on a daily basis, and it is never worth risking a potentially devastating crash just to shave off a few minutes of your journey through such a risky manoeuvre.

“Brake fully supports Durham County Council’s proposed prohibition order against U-turns in this area, a proposal that could help save lives and prevent serious injury.”

A spokesman for Durham Constabulary added: “The council’s intention is to bring in restrictions which would prevent drivers performing u-turns at this location and we are fully supportive.

“It is one of several measures being considered to improve the overall safety of the road in that area and reduce casualties.”

People have until Friday, November 15, to comment on the draft order which is available to see at Durham County Hall, Durham, Peterlee Library, or at the council’s website under its statutory notices section.