Published: 00:00, 23 June 2014
| Updated: 11:51, 23 June 2014
Highways engineers are refusing to investigate a notorious accident blackspot – despite a car ploughing into a house on the blighted one-way street.
Residents woke to the “thunderous impact” of a sporty Ford Focus crashing into the bay window and porch-way of a property in Westbrook Avenue, Margate.
They say the 5am smash – in which the driver careered through the garden wall before hitting the house – is just the latest in a string of incidents on the 30mph road.
But despite residents’ calls for changes to the road layout, Kent County Council says it won’t investigate unless someone is seriously injured or killed.
Sandra Handerek, 53, who lives in the house with her mother Dorothy, said it is infuriating that KCC will not address the issue.
By pure chance she and her mother were not in the house at the time of the crash.
“A few feet either way and the car could have come into one of the rooms and the building could have collapsed,” she said.
“There’s structural damage and the repairs will run into tens of thousands, but we’re considering ourselves lucky.
“Very soon someone is going to be killed on this road.”
Ms Handerek says the problem lies in the road layout.
Westbrook Avenue runs in a straight line and leads into a one-way system at its Margate end. Cars heading in the Margate direction must negotiate a sudden left into Rancorn Road.
Ms Handerek said: “Some drivers use Westbrook Avenue like a drag track. They keep accelerating because they can see the road is nice and straight ahead.
“A lot of people don’t realise they have to go round a corner. When they come to the left-hand turn it’s too late – they can’t make it.”
Michael Harrington, 66, lives next-door to Ms Handerek on Rancorn Road. His parked Renault Clio was also written off in the crash.
He said the road system seemed to invite drivers to travel at speed.
“It’s a 30mph road and yet they’re getting up to speeds of 80mph plus. You can hear the engines roar, the screech of brakes.
“Someone will be seriously injured or killed here unless they do something to drastically change people’s driving habits.”
Ms Handerek says the latest incident, on Sunday, June 15, is one of many that have occurred in exactly the same spot.
She said: “It’s horrendous. We’ve had our wall demolished by cars more times than I can remember."
Residents in the area petitioned Thanet District Council to address their safety concerns around four or five years ago, says Ms Handerek.
“They told us it was a Kent County Council issue.“
According to Ms Handerek, KCC did install a black and white chevron sign to indicate the sudden left turn. This has been knocked down in the recent accident.
Mr Harrington said signage at the corner was too little too late.
“We need traffic calming measures further down Westbrook Avenue,” he said. “You only need to stand here and see the traffic to see that. It’s obvious.”
A statement from Kent County Council said:
“We have to make tough decisions on where to improve traffic and road safety in local areas.
"This means we have to say ‘no’ more than we’d like, especially if the request won’t reduce casualties.
“Improvements we make to road layouts include: junction improvements; traffic calming, such as 20mph zones and speed humps; speed limit changes; new signs and lines; bus stop improvements; new cycle paths; new footpaths; and pedestrian and zebra crossings.
“Someone will be seriously injured or killed here unless they do something to drastically change people’s driving habits" - Michael Harrington
“We’re happy to consider all requests as long as residents go through the following steps: Check the crash history of the site by visiting www.crashmap.co.uk to see if any crashes in the last three years have resulted in personal injury.
"If so, they can go to get community support from a local representative. If the representatives are not supportive, we can’t consider the request.
"Finally, the community representatives can contact us if there’s a crash history and local support for an improvement to the road.
“We’ll let the community representative know within 20 working days whether we can take the request any further.
"We decide with the help of experienced traffic engineers, who identify whether any cost-effective measures to reduce road casualties are needed.”
Behsat Rifat Mehment, 35, of Wyndham Avenue, Margate, has been charged with failing to provide a specimen. He will appear at Margate Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 18.
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