‘Danger road’ A6 now a Red Route

The stretch of the A6 which is now a Red Route
The stretch of the A6 which is now a Red Route

Safety improvements will be made to the A6 between Burton Latimer and Finedon after the latest fatal collision on the road, which has now claimed four lives in the past year alone.

In the past three years there have been 27 accidents which have resulted in injuries on the four-mile stretch, which has now officially been classified as one of the county’s most dangerous roads after being designated as a Red Route.

Three of the collisions have been fatal, claiming four lives.

Seven resulted in serious injuries to drivers or their passengers.

The remaining 17 collisions resulted in slight injuries.

The latest incident on Thursday, June 6, claimed the life of Julie Bunkall, 70, of Rushden.

Highways officers, the police and officers from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service held a meeting of the county’s Red Route Group on Tuesday to discuss what action should now be taken to improve safety and prevent further accidents.

Northampton Highways road safety manager John Spencer said: “Through the continual daily analysis it quickly became apparent that this route was becoming a cause for concern.

“It is now designated a Red Route, we are in the middle of a very detailed study of that route by the Red Route Group, which is made up of Northamptonshire Highways, the police and the Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue service.

“They met on Tuesday to have a detailed look at this route.

“In the next week or so we will determine what measures to take.

“We will look at all of the incidents – by looking at the information we can often pinpoint causation factors.

“Over the 4.8km stretch there can be many factors; over-taking, excess speed and drinking and driving.

“We are looking at all of those issues. Nothing is ruled in, and nothing is ruled out in terms of enforcement.

“If measures need to be taken to reduce over-taking then we will look at that.

“We have used Red Route signs in the past. They are the sort of additional measures we are looking at.

“The roundabout layout features heavily in the study, but we are looking at all of the stretch in detail, including the roundabout, the straight stretch of road and the bends just outside of Finedon.

“There will be a huge amount of analysis.

“It’s detailed study which entails a whole range of things, including a detailed analysis of the accidents. Our engineers go out to the site and the police go out and drive the route.

“All of that information goes in to the study in order that we can hopefully make the best decision.

“We cannot eliminate all the risk from any road, but it is quite a scientific process.

“We are looking at some recommendations now, and need to look at feasibility and costs.

“Within a couple of weeks we should have an action plan so we can get on the network to start any improvements which need to be done.

“It’s quite a quick process. Sometimes with speed limit reductions we have to go through legal processes, but everything is on the table, nothing is ruled out.”

Burton Latimer town councillor Christopher Groome said: “Several highways officials came from Northampton the other week to have a closer look at several issues along that stretch.

“They are looking at a number of ideas, in particular how to reduce speed.”

On December 30, 2012, a collision on the A6 claimed the lives of brothers Balrik Singh Dhesi, 30, known as Rik, and Jatinder Singh Dhesi, 23, known as Jay, both of Whitworth Way, Irthlingborough.

And in June last year, shortly after the new roundabout was installed at the Burton Latimer junction, a 60-year-old Cambridgeshire man was killed after he failed to negotiate the roundabout.

Motorists not breaking the law

The width of the road between Kettering and Finedon gives drivers plenty of space to overtake completely legally.

However similar stretches of road, such as the A6 between Kettering and Market Harborough, have different road markings to give overtaking priority to one lane of traffic.

Red Routes

The A6 between Burton Latimer and Finedon has now been designated as a Red route, which means it has officially been classified as one of the county’s most dangerous routes.

In order to qualify as a Red Route highways officers examine the collision history along a route, which incorporates relevant information such as weather, time of day, road surface conditions and other contributory factors.

The criteria for making a road a Red Route requires there to have been four fatal or serious accidents within a 1,000-metre stretch of road in a rural area or over 500 metres within an urban area in a three-year period.

A road can also be designated a Red Route if there has been a high number of crashes resulting in people being injured.

Other county routes highlighted by the killed or seriously injured accident figures as being of concern include; the M1 J15 to Buckinghamshire; the A43 from Corby to the A1 in Lincolnshire; B4525 Welsh Lane, A5123 Kettering Road, Northampton; A422 Brackley to Middleton Cheney; A509 Bozeat to Little Irchester; A427 Westcott Way, Corby; A510 Wellingborough to Finedon; the M1 North of J15A to J16; and the A4500 Abington Park to York Road.