I held a meeting with Officers at Hampshire County Council Highways Department yesterday.
I asked for it, specifically to look at what we could do to try and prevent further incidents of lorries tipping over.
The first thing that needs to be said is that there is only so much that highway engineers can do.
There are factors beyond the control of highway engineers.
They have no control over how lorries are loaded, whether the vehicles have some fault, or they way they are driven.
We reviewed the incidents that have happened in recent years.
Amazingly, they aren’t recorded as “injury” incidents.
In every case, the driver seems to have escaped unhurt.
It is only good fortune that nobody else has been hurt.
The lorries have all tipped over at the same spot, completely crushing the safety barrier.
If pedestrians were walking along this pavement, there is a very high chance they would be crushed.
Two of the incidents involved a mechanical fault with the vehicle, one with the coupling of the trailer.
It was considered likely that loads shifting within the containers may also have been a factor in some of the incidents.
However, there have been no police prosecutions.
It might have been difficult because the containers are often sealed units and the driver has no way of knowing whether the load inside the container is secure.
So, given the limitations, what could be done?
I am pleased to report that the officers have agreed to put up new signage on all approaches to the roundabout warning about the risk (with a visual indication of a lorry tipping).
They have also agreed to my suggestion that the pavement and barriers be moved further back from the roundabout.
There is room to do this.
The way this works is that the proposal is added to the District Transport Statement, which looks at schemes where there would be of benefit to public safety.
I think the fact that we have seen a series of incidents occurring in a similar way that could, in future, lead to a tragedy, makes this a strong contender when it comes to competing for funding.
HCC have also agreed to write to HGV operators, explaining what we are proposing to do and asking them to remind drivers about the importance of reducing speed when negotiating this roundabout and (as far as possible) taking into account the loads they are carrying and the security thereof.
One further thing, there is still a temporary speed restriction of 40 mph along the A35, heading west from Redbridge to Rushington roundabout.
However, this changes to 50 mph, as you get into Totton.
I would like to see this speed limit reduced all the way towards the roundabout – not just to improve safety at the roundabout itself, but for the pedestrian crossing outside the recreation ground.
The officers told me that they have to work in collaboration with Southampton City Council who are currently considering whether the temporary 40mph speed limit should be made permanent.
They are open minded about the suggestion of making it 40 mph limit to the roundabout and will consider this when a decision has been made by the city council.
If they do decide to recommend it, the matter will have to be the subject of a Traffic Regulation Order, inviting the public to approve or object to the proposal.