Road Safety in Fontmell Magna
Published: 29 March 2022
Various activities are taking place in Fontmell aimed at making our roads safer for all users. In the last few weeks data has been collected on the A350 at the northern and southern edge of the village and also in West Street near the village hall and this is about to be analysed to establish whether we can acquire a Speed Indicator Device to attempt to contain excess speeding. This initiative is being led by Andrew Davis on behalf of the Parish Council and he is pursuing other specific areas of concern regarding road safety including policy issues with Dorset Council. Two initiatives which may be of interest are:-
Community Speed Watch
For a number of years, since Robin East introduced the system, volunteers on behalf of Dorset Police have monitored traffic speeds on the A350. This typically takes place about once every three weeks and the 5% or so of drivers who are exceeding the speed limit by more than 6mph receive an advisory letter when our team are working alone, or a fixed penalty notice if a police staff member is with us. Most people drive responsibly of course but roughly 1000 vehicles exceed the limit by this margin each week.
The information collected by the CSW team is also used by Dorset Police to assist in other activities including dealing with persistent offenders and various criminal activities.
80 Speed Watch teams operate in 400 locations in Dorset which has a very good record in attempting to minimise serious road accidents.
There are a number of places in Fontmell where pedestrians (including children and the elderly), cyclists, horse riders and vehicles have to share the same space, particularly where there is no pavement. There are narrow confined places with poor visibility which make the roads hazardous for all users. Having been a member of the CSW team for a number of years I have become convinced that reducing traffic speeds could well be the most cost effective and practical way of reducing risks which many residents view as excessive.
I joined the 20sPlenty campaign as it offered a useful way of learning what is and isn’t effective regarding speed limits and to explore some of the myths about what works and what doesn’t. Across the UK 20 mph speed limits are being extensively introduced on all types of roads and roughly half of people living in the UK now reside in 20mph areas. This is steadily increasing and in the south Brighton, Portsmouth and Southampton have recently introduced the policy and it is also currently being rolled out across Cornwall.
This change of policy appears not just to be about reducing accidents ( a pedestrian has a 5 times better chance of surviving a collision at 20mph than 30mph) but more to do with changing attitudes about encouraging walking and cycling, improving the local environment and other quality of life issues. A number of counties have introduced a 20mph limit on A roads where the risk to pedestrians is considered high.
My inclination is to believe that a 20mph limit is appropriate for about 80% of our local roads and if Dorset Council adopted this policy it can be cheaply achieved and be largely self-enforcing. We can restore the safe village atmosphere, reduce the risk to all road users and at little or no increase to journey times. We are discussing this and other safety issues with the newly appointed Dorset Council Road Safety Manager.
If you would like to join the cheerful Speed Watch team, acquire 20sPlenty posters or discuss anything I have written please get in touch with me at email@example.com or phone 811669
Peter Mole CSW Co-ordinator