South West Norfolk MP wins national road safety award

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Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, has been named Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month by road safety charity Brake and Direct Line Group for her work campaigning to prevent more devastating crashes on the A47. Elizabeth’s campaign began in August 2010, and has resulted in confirmation from the Department for Transport that safety improvements will be made.

Elizabeth’s campaign began just three months after she took office, with her visiting the Broadend Road junction of the A47 after concerns were raised by Walsoken Parish Council about the large number of crashes occurring at the junction, including several resulting in deaths and serious injuries. After seeing the junction for herself, she heard local residents’ concerns about speeding, lighting and dangerous overtaking. In response, Elizabeth contacted the Highways Agency to call for improvements.

Over two years, Elizabeth worked alongside other local MPs to campaign for the whole A47 to be upgraded to a dual carriageway to help prevent overtaking crashes, a campaign which has received support from ministers, along with specific improvements to black-spots like the Broadend Road junction. Using data she requested from the police through the local council, and from the Highways Agency, she campaigned in the media.

In January 2012 she raised her concerns with then Road Safety Minister Mike Penning through a parliamentary question. He assured Elizabeth at a subsequent meeting the junction would be reviewed. In December, Elizabeth wrote to the Transport Secretary raising concerns that nothing had yet been done.

On January 17, Elizabeth got confirmation from new Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond of safety improvements to the Broadend Road junction, including signage and road markings to warn of the junction and help stop overtaking, and flashing ‘reduce speed’ signs to discourage drivers from travelling too fast.

Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: “As a charity that supports families devastated by road death and injury, we know the suffering these casualties inflict. Yet often tragedies can be prevented through simple, low-cost measures, to warn drivers of hazards and slow traffic down. This is a great example of an MP working alongside the community to make a difference, by speaking out about local road safety concerns, and campaigning for life-saving improvements. We’re delighted Elizabeth’s campaign has achieved solid results, and Brake is pleased to recognise her success with this award. We hope her work will help stop more people losing their lives or being hurt on the A47, and we call on local drivers to do their bit, by staying within speed limits, avoiding overtaking, and slowing down and taking care at junctions.”

Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, said: “The campaign to see improvements on the A47 is still ongoing and is a combined effort of MPs, local residents and councils. I thank Brake for the award and I will continue to lobby the Department for Transport to ensure that the A47 is fit for purpose.”