FENLAND: Safety campaigner wants warning signs alongside water on local roads

PUBLISHED: 18:03 15 May 2008 | UPDATED: 08:27 02 June 2010

graham chappell

graham chappell

Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY ROAD safety campaigner Graham Chappell wants warning signs - similar to those found on cigarette packets – to be put up at entry points to Fenland roads that run alongside water. His using this road can cause death by drowning in

river rescue at the 16ft drain near Bedlam Bridge between March and christchurch

Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY

ROAD safety campaigner Graham Chappell wants warning signs - similar to those found on cigarette packets - to be put up at entry points to Fenland roads that run alongside water.

His 'using this road can cause death by drowning' initiative is part of a campaign he launched following the death of nine year old Charlotte Walker earlier this year.

Mr Chappell, a friend of the family, is spearheading a Charlotte's Way Road Safety Campaign to improve safety on Fenland roads.

16 ft drain danger of drowning sign

He said signs alongside roads such as the Sixteen Foot Bank - where Charlotte died - and along the Forty Foot Bank "are signs that smack you in the face with big capital letters, drawing your attention to the severity of the hazards".

Mr Chappell says along the Forty Foot Bank signs saying 'speed kills' are a beginning but it goes nowhere far enough.

"As Richard Hammond had indicated on Top Gear, the proportion of accidents on rural roads where speed was the critical factor is just four per cent," he said.

"When the accident involves your car plunging into the river water, it is the water that will get you and death will be by shock from the cold water, or by drowning."

Mr Chappell has now delivered a safety 'manifesto' to MP Malcolm Moss, who has promised to support the campaign, and he hopes both county and Government agencies will sit up and take note.

Of the current signs alongside some Fenland roads, Mr Chappell says the Highway Agency has shown "a chronic lack of interest in the accuracy of the content of these signs".

Mr Moss said he has received details from the county council about accident statistics on Fenland roads.

"Although the statistics are grim, it is worth remembering that only around a quarter of the incidents involved vehicles entering the water," said Mr Moss.

However he was keen to ensure Cambridgeshire's roads received suitable funding and "I now more than ever firmly believe that safety improvements along the Fenland drains are essentially a Government rather than a county responsibility".

Mr Chappell, however, believes that the county council's assertion of few accidents involving immersion in water misses a crucial point.

"I would suggest that it would be statistically very significant if all, or nearly all, of the fatal incidents on these roads involved immersion water, as I suspect is likely to the case," he said.


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