POLICE are ordering motorists to stop using a busy dual-carriageway as a “race track” after a spate of crashes.
The stretch of the A19 near Hartlepool has seen a host of serious collisions since the start of 2012.
A cyclist has been killed, numerous cars mangled and lanes closed between Easington and Billingham due to the incidents that road policing officers say have been “more frequent than usual”.
Police say they can not pinpoint why there has been a surge in smashes, especially with the weather being mild, but that they should act as a warning to other drivers travelling both northbound and southbound.
Acting Sergeant Paul Sanderson, of the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “What we have found lately is people are tending to use the A19 as a race track.
“At various times the traffic slows right down but we are seeing drivers going into the inside lane to undertake and gain an advantage over their fellow drivers, which is dangerous and not acceptable.”
He said impatience often plays a part in car crashes as people rush to get to work or to dodge traffic jams.
But he is urging motorists to take more time and use “a bit more common sense”.
Act Insp Sanderson added: “Drivers are going to have to start leaving adequate space between themselves and the car in front so they can stop in an emergency, drive appropriately for the volume of traffic and have lane discipline.
“Also, leave a bit earlier in the morning and give yourself an extra five or 10 minutes.
“If everyone did that it would cut down the number of accidents, speed up the traffic and cause less hold-ups.”
Hartlepool and east Durham are currently in the middle of a cold snap as icy winds from eastern Europe plunge night-time temperatures to as low as -5C, and thermometers are struggling to get above zero during the day.
With black ice and wintry showers a possibility in the coming days, Act Insp Sanderson is even keener for motorists to drive with caution.
He added: “If there are icy conditions, then take even more time, make sure your car is completely de-iced and you can see out of the windows clearly and leave even more space between vehicles.”