Residents living on one of County Durham’s deadliest roads are calling for the speed limit to be reduced to prevent more tragic incidents. 

Impassioned pleas to reduce the speed limit on a stretch of the A177 through Shincliffe have been made to protect people’s lives. 

Locals say the A177 through Shincliffe is the only A road into the city which is a 40mph zone and a single carriageway, and described a “legacy of incidents” meaning it has become a blackspot for crashes. 

Over 40 per cent of all fatalities on roads within Durham City between 2017-2022 have been on the A177 through Shincliffe, according to Crash Map data, meaning it is on par with the A690 for the most dangerous road in County Durham. 

Graham Hollingworth, who lives on the road, said he is often the first on the scene when crashes take place. After repeatedly seeing drivers crash into homes, walls, road furniture and other cars he produced a report to expose the worrying reality of road safety in the area. 

He said: “The drivers of these cars are not just injuring themselves, they're taking out homes. You don’t have to be on the path to be in danger, you could be sitting on your sofa.” 

The Safer in Shincliffe campaign group has also called for improved signage and road markings to highlight the need to slow down. 

One recent incident saw a car lose control and crash into the bay window of a house next to the road, just minutes after a family was sitting nearby. And a memorial bench previously in the village, placed in memory of someone who died in a crash, was later hit and has since been moved. 

Campaigners carried out a community speed watch programme to collate data and found 25 per cent of drivers were in excess of the 40mph speed limit - but their repeated appeals to the council were not approved. 

The Northern Echo: One of the flyers created by the campaign groupOne of the flyers created by the campaign group (Image: Handout)

Graham added: “We kept coming up against a brick wall and were told no. We’re sitting on a ticking time bomb of evidence but we are just told no. 

“If you wanted to make a difference to road deaths in County Durham why don’t you start with the worst road first?” 

Elsewhere in the county, the group said reducing the speed limit in Sherburn House and Brancepeth has seen recorded incidents drop by 100 per cent. 

The group say the police objected to a recent speed reduction scheme through Daddry Shield, Weardale, but was overruled by the council. It has left residents asking the question: why is every Shincliffe proposal rejected but other speed reduction schemes elsewhere in County Durham are approved? 

But a comment from a council traffic officer concluded that a reduction in Shincliffe isn’t suitable.

“The existing 40mph speed limit remains credible and appropriate for this location,” they said. 

The Safer in Shincliffe group argues improving road markings and signage isn’t enough, as the area is rarely monitored by the police for speeding. 

“Speeding here is more enforceable than other areas in the county, where similar schemes have been implemented,” Graham said.

“What I can’t understand is that the council is adamant it’s a 40mph zone. What is wrong with this road? Every death has been a pedestrian or cyclist.” 

The Northern Echo: Damage to a house on the A177 at Shincliffe following a crash Damage to a house on the A177 at Shincliffe following a crash (Image: Handout)

Bill Clatworthy, a local parish councillor, said people are now worried to cross the road, as they don’t know what’s around the corner.

He said: “Crossing the road is nightmarish. The speed is dangerous.” 

Graham added: “We’re trying to make the road safer. I don’t want to drag more people out of their cars.”

Durham police said the group’s appeal was investigated as well as analysing figures of recorded collisions and speed data from Durham County Council.

A spokeswoman said: “In 2023, around three per cent of all vehicles in the area were travelling within our speed enforcement thresholds. Of these, a number are likely to be blue light vehicles due to the road being a main route in and out of Durham City.

“While one driver exceeding the speed limit is one too many, the number of vehicles travelling within our police enforcement thresholds did not meet our escalation levels where we would consider dedicated speed enforcement attention by either our Roads and Armed Policing Unit or our Safety Camera Unit.”

The force said there is significant demand on officers and it must prioritise resources. 

“This means, regretfully, we cannot always provide a resource to meet every community’s expectation, as locations with a high collision or high excess speed problem are given a higher degree of priority,” Durham police added. 

“While the area is not subject to specific speed enforcement, we would like to reassure residents that if officers witness speeding vehicles in the area during their routine patrols, they will of course take necessary action.”

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Durham County Council ruled out implementing new measures anytime soon. The local authority said it combines speed and accident data with on-site assessments, and applies local and national policies before considering certain requests. 

Dave Lewin, strategic traffic manager, said: “We have carried out a speed limit review on the A177 at Shincliffe and it does not meet the criteria for the limit to be changed. We appreciate this will be disappointing to those in favour of the change, but we do treat every request fairly and consistently.”