Fatal crashes spark more concern over safety of A1

Police put up signs on the A1 asking for witnesses to Saturday's fatal collision.
Police put up signs on the A1 asking for witnesses to Saturday's fatal collision.

Major safety concerns have once again been raised about the A1 after two fatal crashes in seven weeks – involving vehicles travelling in the wrong direction.

On Saturday evening, a man who has not yet been identified by police, was killed in a two-vehicle collision on the dual-carriageway section at Newton on the Moor. The incident, which happened at 9.57pm, involved a Ford Transit van and a Subaru Impreza.

Northumbria Police say that the van had exited from the junction from Swarland and was heading south onto the A1 in the northbound lane. The Subaru Impreza was travelling northbound when the two vehicles collided head-on.

The Subaru driver died at the scene, while the 24-year-old male driver of the Transit was taken to hospital with serious leg injuries. His passenger, a 24-year-old woman, suffered minor injuries.

Less than two months before this, Amble pensioner Gwendoline Anne Wright died in hospital after a crash on the A1 near Alnwick. The fatal incident happened on Saturday, February 18, when she was driving south in the northbound carriageway and collided with a Volkswagen Golf.

In September 2013, an 84-year-old woman was killed after driving her car the wrong way down the A1 near Morpeth.

These latest incidents have prompted fresh calls for safety improvements to be carried out on the A1 in Northumberland, which is a mixture of dual and single carriageway; although plans are in place to upgrade sections of the road.

The fatal crashes have raised concerns about ‘dangerous’ junctions along the stretch and prompted appeals to do more to advise motorists about the nature of the road.

Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “Saturday’s accident is a sad reminder that many of the junctions on the A1 have real safety concerns at present, many of which will be addressed by the A1 improvement works which are scheduled to begin next year alongside the dualling project.

“I will be raising the problems of the Newton on the Moor junction with the Highways England A1 in Northumberland team.

“It is important we take the opportunity to ensure safety is improved at existing junctions, particularly on the stretch which is already dualled.”

The Newton on the Moor junction is in the Shilbottle ward of Coun Trevor Thorne.

He said: “This junction is very dangerous, as are numerous others along the A1 in Northumberland. We must do something quickly to improve safety and I will be taking it up with Highways England.

“I think we need more signage to warn people, and the lack of slip roads is a real issue.

“One of the problems is the A1 is a real mix between dual and single carriageway.”

Readers on our Facebook page have also expressed concerns. Dan Bilzerian Hewitson wrote: ‘They need to put slip roads at every entrance of the A1. The junctions don’t help at all.’

Sean Straker added: ‘That A1 is notorious. Something needs done. Too many families are suffering now.’

In 2014, the Government announced a package to improve the A1 in Northumberland, including dualling the stretch between Morpeth and Felton, as well as Alnwick and Ellingham.

The plan is to also enhance the single carriageway north of Ellingham, creating overtaking opportunities, junction improvements and improved crossing facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.