Drivers hit 100mph in Preston village where the limit is 30mph
One hundred journeys into a Preston village were made at motorway speeds during June – in spite of the limit being just 30 miles per hour (mph).
Data obtained by the Lancashire Post shows that, on half a dozen occasions, vehicles actually topped 100mph at the point at which their speed was captured on the main route into Whittingham over a four-week period earlier this summer.
Nine out of ten vehicle movements were breaking the speed limit along the 30mph stretch of Whittingham Lane heading towards the village and Goosnargh beyond it – four out of ten of them by at least 10mph.
The startling speeding stats have led to calls from the parish council for a permanent speed camera to be installed in an attempt to drive down the number of motorists prepared to play fast and loose with the safety of villagers – and themselves.
The limit on Whittingham Lane – for vehicles travelling east away from Broughton – drops from 40 to 30mph close to Chingle Hall. Just past the clearly-signed change is a speed indicator device (SpID) that tells drivers how fast they are going.
While it is possible that some may heed the warning, others appear to have been motoring too fast even to notice.
According to one Whittingham parish councillor, anecdotal evidence suggests that many only curb their speeds when they are balked by cars parked close to the post office in the heart of the village – and Michelle Woodburn says that there is plenty of opportunity for reckless drivers to have done a lot of damage before they are finally forced to apply the brakes.
“Some of the speeds are frightening – you can feel the draft [from the vehicles] when you are on the pavement. Anybody with a child would have no chance – you have got to put your back [to the traffic] and shield [the child] as they go past.
“For people with prams using that lane, it’s horrendous. There are a lot of children who walk along Whittingham Lane and also adults and children on bikes.
“There is an old people’s home nearby as well. Disabled people come up to that main road and it is really difficult for them to cross. I was crossing with a lady with a walking stick recently and I ended up flagging the traffic down,” Cllr Woodburn added.
The SpID registers vehicle speeds, but unlike fixed cameras, does not capture the number plates of offending vehicles. Whittingham parish council clerk Julie Buttle – who is tasked with retrieving the data every month – says that drivers are all too aware of the difference between the devices.
“When I am there with my yellow jacket on, clearly doing something official in relation to speed, even that does not stop some people speeding past,” she explained.
All of the incidents of speeding at over 100mph on Whittingham Lane in June occurred between midnight and 6am – with the fastest speed being in excess of 110mph.
However, speeds of over 70mph were recorded on almost two dozen occasions during the morning and afternoon rush hours – 6am to 9am and 3pm to 7pm – the times when children are most likely to be using the route.
There were more than 7,000 journeys which saw vehicles travelling at between 40 and 50mph during those peak times.
Concerns registered with the Lancashire Road Safety Partnership saw Whittingham Lane recently labelled as a “red” risk after an assessment of the speeds registered and the accident rate on the route – resulting in the installation of temporary additional signage warning drivers to slow down.
However, Cllr Woodburn says that incidents of vehicles leaving the road are more common than official accident records are likely to show.
“There have actually been quite a number of accidents that probably haven’t been reported. They happen a lot at the corner of Whittingham Lane and Cumeragh Lane – there have been cars going off into the field there, but now houses are being built on that land so they would be hitting a property or landing in a front garden.
“Why do we have to wait for more people to have accidents before they do something about it?”
Cllr Woodburn fears that the risk will only rise when the village population increases as the former Whittingham Hospital site continues to be redeveloped for housing – and with the prospect of another 550 homes coming to Goosnargh if developers are successful in their appeal against the refusal of permission for six new estates in the area.
She accepts that some villagers might themselves be guilty of speeding – and acknowledges that the problem is not caused only by people passing through from outside the area. However, she says that one thing they all have in common is a particular mindset about motoring – and it is one she cannot understand.
“Why don’t people realise that they aren’t going to get [where they’re going] much earlier by going faster. Just go at a normal speed – why do people have to rush to get to places?
“It’s just the mentality of people – just slow down,” she appealed.
Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for highways Charlie Edwards said that Whittingham Lane “has a generally good safety record”.
However, he added: “Everyone has a right to feel safe where they live and the data from the Parish Council’s speed indicator device does appear to show that speeds have increased to an unacceptable level.
“Our road safety team works alongside the police and other partners as part of the Lancashire Road Safety Partnership and has monitored speeds and responded with various measures when concerns have been raised about Whittingham Lane in the past.
“Our records show that interventions such as deploying speed indicator signs to remind drivers of their speed and encourage compliance with the speed limit have resulted in lower average speeds when comparative surveys have been made – and I’m aware that the police carry out mobile speed enforcement on a monthly basis. However it’s clear we need to look again at the issue.
“A further intervention available to us as the county council is to target some road safety messages to drivers using our mobile variable messaging signs which we’ve recently invested in, and we will look to prioritise using these on Whittingham Lane in the near future.
“I’m grateful to the parish Council for making us aware of their latest data and I will ask the Road Safety Partnership to consider all the options available to ourselves and the police,” County Cllr Edwards added.
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “It is well researched and documented that speeding kills and so we would urge all motorists to drive safely and within the confines of the law.
“We are committed to reducing the number of people killed and injured on the county’s roads and we will continue to use enforcement, engagement and education of drivers to help us achieve this.”
‘NOBODY TAKES ANY NOTICE’
When the Post asked people shopping in Whittingham about speeding in the village, the question was often met with an eye roll of recognition that suggested it was widely regarded as a problem.
Broughton residents Yvonne and Vincent Villa said that it is one that is replicated across Preston’s northern villages.
“Traffic has gone horrendous these days – and nobody takes any notice of the signs,” Vincent said.
“You only have to look at the Broughton bypass – they all do 60 miles per hour along there even though the limit is 40. If you leave your window open – you can hear them coming from far off, especially the motorbikes.
“If the grand prix is on the TV, you can’t tell the difference.”
Wife Yvonne said that in Whittingham, what would usually be regarded as problem parking close to the post office is actually a blessing in disguise.
“That actually slows the traffic down in a good way. It is busy through the village and they quite often have radar traps, but they’re lower down nearer the [former] hospital, not in the centre.”
Meanwhile, ten-year-old Ollie Hunt is looking forward to being allowed to go out on his own when he reaches secondary school age His Mum Natalie winces at the prospect.
“It is a bit of a worry – you do get people going faster than you’d like through the village. It’d maybe be better if there were a few speed humps to calm things down a little,” she said.
Ollie and six-year-old sister Emily were in agreement that more should be done to put the brakes on speeding drivers and make it safer for children of their age.
“A zebra crossing would be good,” Ollie suggested, keen for a second safe place to cross, in addition to the traffic light-controlled crossing opposite the village’s parade of shops.
Another Whittingham resident who has lived in the village for over a decade, but did not want to be named, was more pessimistic about the prospects of solving the problem.
“Speed is just one of those things – apart from if they put average speed cameras in, you’re never going to stop it,” he said.
The speed indicator device on Whittingham Lane, close to Chingle Hall, registered the following speeds between 3rd and 30th June.
10-20mph – 824 times
20-30mph – 2,590 times
30-40mph – 21,138 times
40-50mph – 15,698 times
50-60mph – 2,121 times
60-70mph – 360 times
70-80mph – 75 times
80-90mph – 19 times
90-100mph – 4 times
110-110mph – 4 times
Over 110mph – twice
HOW TO REPORT SPEEDING PROBLEMS - AND WHAT GETS DONE ABOUT THEM
Lancashire’s Road Safety Partnership investigates concerns about speeding across the county, but will only assess locations once every three years. A list of sites considered within that timeframe is available on its website, along with the details of how to register a concern over an area that has not recently been checked – lancsroadsafety.co.uk
The organisation examines speed and accident data and ranks roads based on a matrix running from green, through amber, to red. That categorisation determines the action will be taken at a particular location.
For the areas of most concern, measures can include speed camera enforcement and even engineering schemes to alter road layouts. In other instances, temporary signage is erected and local volunteers can also be trained to work with the police to identify speeding and other traffic offences.
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