Driver calls traffic lights at new £1.1million junction into question after near miss on A19

New traffic lights at an accident blackspot on the outskirts of Hartlepool have been called into question after a driver had a near miss.

By Mark Payne
Tuesday, 30 July, 2019, 06:00

Lights and a new road layout have recently been finished on the A179 Hart bypass where it joins the A19 in a £1.1 million scheme by Durham County Council.

But driver Peter Joyce has raised concerns after almost colliding with a camper van when he turned right to join the A19 north. He said lights for vehicles travelling from Wingate towards Hartlepool were on green at the same time.

Mr Joyce, 69, of Rossmere, Hartlepool, was driving in his Mercedes mobility car with partner Jacqueline Dunning at the time.

A vehicle turning across the path of another as it makes its way onto the A179/A19 northbound sliproad. Picture by Frank Reid

He said: “I came across the junction where the lights were on green. I continued to turn right thinking that I had priority and saw this camper van come towards us.

“My partner next to me screamed as if to say ‘he’s not stopping’. I accelerated and he just missed me.”

Both drivers stopped and discovered both sets of lights are on green at the same time.

Mr Joyce added: “I said we were on green and he said ‘so was I’. My partner was very shook up because it would have hit her side.

Peter Joyce and partnerJacqueline Dunning.

“To me it’s a very dangerous situation. At the time it was absolutely frightening.

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“Luckily, there was nobody hurt but it would have been a right mess if it had hit us.

“I don’t know if it is a fault or if they have been designed like that.”

Work at the junction took place between October last year and this spring after being identified for improvement by Highways England.

A vehicle turning across the path of another as it makes its way onto the A179/A19 northbound slip road. Picture by Frank Reid

In recent years, there has been a number of serious accidents at the location including deaths.

Traffic lights have been installed to reduce traffic queuing back onto the A19 from the northbound sliproad, and the speed limit across the junction has been reduced from 60mph to 40mph.

Dave Wafer, strategic traffic manager at Durham County Council, said: “The type of traffic signal layout at the A179 Sheraton junction is commonly used throughout the country and as highlighted in the Highway Code drivers wanting to turn right should give way to oncoming traffic.

“In addition, the junction has a right-turn arrow feature which only appears when people are still waiting to turn right at the end of the normal green period.

“Temporary signs had been erected at the site to remind drivers to give way to oncoming vehicles when turning right.”