Dicing with death

Date: Tuesday 10th April 2018

DEPRESSING statistics show that drivers are dicing with death on the A66, particularly on the single carriageway stretches of the road between Penrith and Scotch Corner. It is a scandalous state of affairs for one of the country’s arterial routes.

The dangers posed by travelling on the road have been further illustrated by three crashes in the vicinity of Kirkby Thore in the space of six days, one of which resulted in the death of a 73-year-old man.

The risks to life are not confined to the A-road either. When there are diversions as a result of the A66 being closed following crashes, a huge volume of traffic is ushered on to country roads which are patently unsuitable for the numbers of lorries and other vehicles forced to use them.

It is a sad fact that these dangers are not new — but they are increasing as the number of vehicles on the A66 grows ever larger. Improvements have been made to the road in recent years thanks to concerted pressure from the communities alongside it. But the deaths cannot be allowed to continue.

Highways England says a start could be made on fully dualling the A66 between Penrith and Scotch Corner between 2020 and 2025. In the meantime, meetings are to be held during the summer about the development of options to make the single carriageway stretches safer.

Something should be done now to get the dual carriageway plan to the top of the priority list. How can we afford to wait perhaps another seven years for work to start when the A66 death toll continues to rise?