Revealed: NDR roundabout accident blackspots
PUBLISHED: 13:00 07 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:03 08 January 2020
Norwich’s Northern Distributor Road (NDR) has seen the equivalent of one accident every two weeks since it opened, prompting pressure from drivers to improve “confusing” roundabouts.
Figures show emergency services were called to 54 crashes on the NDR between November 2017, when it partially opened, and November 2019.
Norfolk County Council said the accident rate is going down on the 12.5-mile dual carriageway and that further improvements are in the works.
The highest number of accidents - 29 - happened in 2018, the same year it fully opened to traffic. There were 23 accidents last year.
The vast majority of crashes happened on roundabouts, with a quarter at Wroxham Road roundabout, near Rackheath.
With 13 crashes, it is the most dangerous section of the NDR.
A further eight accidents happened at North Walsham Road roundabout and another five at Salhouse Road roundabout.
A council spokesman said: "The roundabouts are designed to national standards and we are continuing to monitor their use.
"A recent safety audit highlighted that there are no clear trends in terms of the types of accidents."
The council has already spent £130,000 making improvements to the roundabouts and is planning to make more changes.
This includes adding temporary screening, to reduce dazzling from headlights, on the Wroxham Road roundabout and extra chevrons.
There will also be extra chevrons on the North Walsham Road roundabout and changes made at the airport roundabout to slow down drivers.
The cost and timescale for the extra work has yet to be revealed, but the overall budget for the NDR, also known as the Broadland Northway, has spiralled from the £148.5m estimated in 2013 to £205m.
The council's safety audit, published in September last year, found the accident rate on the road is high for a modern dual carriageway.
But it described that finding as "misleading" as most dual carriageways do not have as many closely spaced roundabouts as the NDR. It also said the severity of the crashes was low.
Of the 54 accidents, 37 were recorded as slight, meaning there were only minor injuries.
One such accident happened on September 3, 2018, when delivery driver Harry Hoy, 25, suffered a large cut to his hand and a lump on his leg after a crash on North Walsham Road roundabout.
Mr Hoy, who lived in North Walsham at the time but now lives in Norwich, said he was hit by a car as he attempted to leave the roundabout on his motorbike.
He said the three lanes on the roundabout confused drivers.
"I was in the right hand lane on the NDR going straight, a car from the left slowed down, looked, but then pulled out thinking I was going right," he said.
Mr Hoy was sent over the vehicle's bonnet and hit a sign with his leg before landing on a traffic island.
He said he has had many near misses on the NDR but no longer uses the road since moving.
Taxi driver Spencer Hills, 44, from Spixworth, also claimed to have witnessed many close calls.
He said: "It's a great concept of a road but has been designed incredibly poorly."
He said drivers were taking unnecessary risks pulling out onto roundabouts to get across.
"Journey times in the morning on these roads and the evenings have tripled travel times as queues are terrible," he added. "I have tried every way possible to get home to Spixworth and it's impossible to avoid queues."
Driving instructor Rebecca Radbourne, 43, from Dereham, said: "It's a must to teach my students to try to keep them safe. While on lessons on the NDR I've so often had to hit the brakes because another car comes past in front of us to take the exit we are starting to pass.
"We get horns sounded at us as well as fists shaken and verbal abuse implying we are in the wrong."
Cath Spenceley, 59, Lyng, east of Dereham, said: "I can honestly say I put my life in other people's hands every day. I have near misses at least once a day but usually two or three.
"It is better now there are count down markers, which were not there from the beginning. Despite these the amount of stupid idiotic driving is incomprehensible."
Becca Hardy, from Norwich, who uses the road everyday, said: "You just have to take extra care on the roundabouts and be prepared for people who aren't used to the road."
Raymond Firman, from Honing, described the NDR as a good road, adding: "It's just the people driving on it that don't know to keep in lane on the roundabouts and keep in the outside lane between roundabouts at slow speed."
Figures show there were six serious accidents which led to casualties being hospitalised and one fatal collision.
David Powell, 49, from Attleborough, died on the NDR in a crash at Horsham St Faith on August 14 last year.
Police believe Mr Powell had left his BMW on the roadside to inspect the damage to the car after hitting an animal.
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