Speed crackdown on A-road after car is clocked doing 144mph

A crackdown on speeding cars is on the cards, along with improved safety measures for a road where one motorist was clocked doing up to 144mph.

The A171 Guisborough bypass could see increased monitoring by police and alterations to a one-and-half mile stretch of single carriageway, which has been causing continued concern among councillors in the area and the local MP Simon Clarke.

Between the summer of 2019 and March the following year there were four fatalities on the road.

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Two occured in an accident in June 2019 when teenage driver Mario Dzhambazov was said to be driving “ludicrously fast” and his BMW collided with a Hyundai vehicle, claiming the lives of 68-year-old semi-retired farmer Michael Liddell and his daughter, mother-of-two Sarah Liddell, 41.

The A171 in GuisboroughThe A171 in Guisborough
The A171 in Guisborough

Dzhambazov, a Bulgarian national, was later sentenced to eight years in prison and banned from driving for ten years.

A month later, over a six-day period, police figures showed there were an average of 211 vehicles doing 80mph and more, and 23 vehicles doing 100mph and more.

Speeds of 141mph and 144mph – more than twice the speed limit – were also recorded.

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Meetings have subsequently taken place between Redcar and Cleveland Council representatives, Mr Clarke and Cleveland Police, with all parties recognising the need for road safety interventions sooner rather than later.

The council, following advice from police, intends to make alterations to the road between the Woodhouse junction, near to Subway, and the North Lodge junction, where motorists can turn right to head into Guisborough town centre along Church Lane, or alternatively go straight on for Whitby.

These may include yellow transverse bar markings being put in place immediately prior to roundabouts on the stretch to encourage drivers to reduce their speed.

Another option is centre of carriageway hatching with broken white border lines with the aim of visually reducing the road width and slowing traffic.

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Speed camera enforcement has been considered, but Conservative Mr Clarke, who represents Middlesbrough South and east Cleveland, said “this option comes at a significant cost and cannot be achieved in the short term”.

George Maratty, heads of the specialist operations unit at Cleveland Police, said: “As part of an ongoing discussion around road safety measures on the A171, Cleveland Police met with Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and MP Simon Clarke.

“On this stretch of road there were three deaths in two separate incidents in a short space of time in the summer of 2019 and one road death in March 2020.

“Speed limits and compliance are a matter for local councils and enforcement of those limits is a matter for police, so it is important that all agencies work together to try to come up with a solution to any ongoing issues.

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“Police will assist with any measures put in place by the council on the A171 by enforcing the speed limit, along with numerous other roads in the Cleveland Police area, with the aim of increasing speed compliance and safety for road users.”

Mr Clarke previously highlighted the frequency of “very serious and fatal accidents” on the Guisborough bypass in recent years, the wideness of which can encourage motorists to overtake on both sides.

The MP said: “What is clear is that we need an intervention to improve safety on the A171 now and so I wholeheartedly welcome the council in taking these initial steps to improve the safety along the Guisborough bypass.

“I trust that the local authority’s interventions will be made to match the recommendations as laid out in a traffic management site visit report which followed a number tragic fatal accidents on this busy route.”

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Councillor Julie Craig, who has the highways and transport portfolio at Redcar and Cleveland Council, said the local authority was also looking at safety improvements to the Coast Road from Redcar and Marske.

The council plans to work with Cleveland Police and Cleveland Fire Brigade to promote road safety in schools and to community groups, as part of a new campaign.

Coun Craig said: “[We need] to ensure that we look at every option and opportunity to keep our roads as safe as they can be. Road safety saves lives and it is the way that people act and drive on our roads that causes the danger and it is this behaviour that we need to address.”