Road surface blamed for car crashes

A COUNCIL has defended its use of a controversial road surface following a spate of accidents on the same stretch of road.It is believed there could have been up to a dozen cases of motorists losing control of their cars at the same spot on the B1077 at Aspall, near Debenham.

Anthony Bond

A COUNCIL has defended its use of a controversial road surface following a spate of accidents on the same stretch of road.

It is believed there could have been up to a dozen cases of motorists losing control of their cars at the same spot on the B1077 at Aspall, near Debenham.

One of those was retired ex-music teacher Jane Bramhall, who is now calling for a ban on the use of Stone Mastic Asphalt (SMA) which is used on roads throughout Suffolk and across the country.

The 60-year-old was travelling back from choir practice on the B1077, which she has been using for 27 years, when she lost control of her car.

“The car wheels just appeared to flip away from me and my car spun out of control and flipped into a hedge and left me suspended from the seat belt,” she said.

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“I believe it is the road surface the council is using which made me crash. I have researched this on the internet and found that there have been many other cases across the country.”

Mrs Bramhall, who has been contacted by other motorists who have experienced similar problems, said she believed the road was resurfaced last August and that since that time there may have been at least 12 accidents in the same area.

Paul Watters, head of roads policy at the AA, said there can be problems with SMA shortly after it has been laid. “It does have this weakness that it can be slippery just after application and for a period of time after.

“There is an initial risk of higher skid resistance in the dry and the dry skid resistance can be similar to what a wet road would be like. There have been examples found that after six months the road has not returned to the same condition as a dry road would be. We are calling for authorities to monitor very closely the performance of the road just after it has been laid to monitor the skid resistance.”

Guy McGregor, portfolio holder for roads and transport at Suffolk County Council, said he has asked that the concerns of Mrs Bramhall and other motorists are looked into. “The main thing is the safety of people travelling on the road and we are looking very closely at this. At this stage we want to discover more about why the accidents occurred.

“I think it is too early to judge whether it is the material or not.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council added: “The material that we use in Suffolk is used throughout the UK. This new surface gives superior performance for car drivers and is also a much quieter surface to drive along.”

The spokesman added that an investigation would be carried out into any accidents or near misses on any road within Suffolk.

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