Road safety campaigner speaks out following death of Leicester student on the A47 at Thorney Toll

Sukhdeep Singh Johal

Sukhdeep Singh Johal - Credit: Archant

A Fenland campaigner has spoken out about road safety after a woman was jailed for six years for texting and calling on two phones moments before causing a crash which killed a 27 year old student on the A47 at Thorney Toll.

Marina Usaceva, 31, of Peterborough, was driving a green Jaguar X-Type between Peterborough and Wisbech on March 15 last year, when she crashed into the back of a Peugeot 206.

The shunt pushed the Peugeot into the path of an oncoming Tesco articulated lorry – killing the driver, Sukhdeep Singh Johal, of Leicester.

Graham Chappell, campaign organiser for the Fenland Road Safety Campaign (Charlotte’s Way), said it was a terrible tragedy of driver distraction and added that that stretch of road had concerned local residents for years who have been pressing for a lower speed limit in a campaign backed by local MP Steve Barclay.

He said : “The death of Sukhdeep Singh Johal, in this A47 collision, was an awful tragedy for his family and loved ones, and all concerned, and a terrible confirmation of the dangers of driver distraction.


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“The cause of this fatality may not have been primarily speed related, but it highlighted, once again, the additional risks experienced by those trying to access homes and services on this stretch of road.

“It is regrettable that the responsible UK Highways department, continues to respond dismissively to calls from local residents for the speed limit to be reduced from 60mph, at least to 50mph, to better reflect the additional care required for safe passage on this part of the A47.

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Elsewhere on this road, notably between Peterborough and Leicester, at every similar location where the road passes through a clusters of homes and other services, a lower speed limit applies.”

Mr Chappell said that the Highways Agency responded by saying that the A47 between New Cut roundabout (near Thorney) and Guyhirn has an injury collision rate below that of the national average for roads of similar character and shows a decreasing trend.

But Mr Chappell said: “This does not address the particular issues and accident/collision history specific to Thorney Toll, and additionally, given that the national trend over the past 10 years has seen a very significant reduction in serious injury accident rates and a halving of the fatal RTA rates for the country as a whole, it would not be a surprise if the accident rate on this stretch of the A47, has also been reduced, but by how much in relation to the national trend?

“It is a ‘zero tolerance’ approach that has led the trend in the developed world towards progressive improvement in road safety outcomes.

“There remains no room for the kind of complacency implied by this statement from the local branch of the UK Highways Agency, which, by the way, was responsible for estimating the cost of installing a simple ‘Village Hall’ sign, for Thorney Toll, at £30,000.”

A Highways Agency spokesperson said: “Safety is a top priority for the Highways Agency. We are currently looking into the accident data for this stretch of road and assessing whether there is any work which can be done to improve the situation.

“There is a safety camera along the A47 at Thorney Toll, which is enforced by the police. The A47 between Peterborough and Leicester is not part of our road network.

“We’re happy to discuss any representations made by local residents and campaigners.”ENDS

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