A148 speed limit campaigner horrified at road casualty costs

Karen Seaward at the junction on the A148 where her daughter Martha was killed. Campaigners are dem

Karen Seaward at the junction on the A148 where her daughter Martha was killed. Campaigners are demanding a speed limit reduction. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A road safety campaigner demanding a reduction in the 60mph speed limit on a north Norfolk road where a teenager was killed has admitted he is 'gobsmacked' by new figures which revealed the annual cost of road casualties in Norfolk stood at £174m.

The shocking statistic emerged following a Freedom of Information request to Norfolk County Council by north Norfolk resident Simon Burton Pye, 49.

Included in the grim tally of £174,383,316 for 2014 is the near-£2m estimated cost of each death on the county's roads - and that year there were 34 fatalities.

Mr Burton Pye, of Stonefield Road, Baconsthorpe, near Holt, is among campaigners demanding a cut in the 60mph speed limit along the A148 at its junction with Lodge Hill, near Sheringham Park.

Their decade-long battle has gained more urgency since January 2014 when 15-year-old Martha Seaward, from Holt, was killed as she tried to cross the road.

They are challenging Norfolk County Council's decision, following Martha's death, not to lower the speed limit.

Instead the council spent £21,500 installing a footpath leading to a crossing point on the road, with associated signs and markings.

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Mr Burton Pye believes the council's Speed Management Strategy is seriously flawed.

It stated that 'a balance must be struck between maintaining road safety while still enabling road users to reach destinations with minimal delay.'

He argues that keeping the 60mph limit certainly would maintain the road safety record at the Lodge Hill junction - but that record was poor, and needed to be improved.

'When I read the cost of road casualties I was gobsmacked - astounded,' said Mr Burton Pye.

Reducing the speed limit to 50mph would cost little, help reduce collisions and therefore cut the astronomical costs of accidents.

Iain Temperton, team manager for casualty reduction at Norfolk County Council, said every life lost came at a high price – emotionally and financially, which is why they worked with all the relevant authorities in Norfolk on implementing initiatives that would improve road safety, targeting them where they would have most success.

He added: 'There is no value in setting inappropriate speed limits that are largely ignored by drivers and are difficult to enforce. Speed limits that are accepted by motorists as reasonable achieve much better compliance.

'This approach to setting appropriate speed limits is endorsed in the latest guidance from the Department for Transport, recently used to update our speed management strategy.'

Road casualties cost Norfolk £174,383,316 in 2014. Fatalities accounted for £67,593,054 of this total.