Call for layby to be closed after death

A14 layby near A1120 Stowupland turn off (Eastbound)
A14 layby near A1120 Stowupland turn off (Eastbound)
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A WIDOW has called for a ‘sub-standard’ layby on the A14 to be closed after her husband died in a car accident.

Clare Mann made the plea and urged for safety measures to be improved on laybys across the country following an inquest into her husband Edward’s death.

The father of three, of Higham, died after his VW Sharan was involved in a collision with the back of a HGV lorry parked on the A14 eastbound layby, in Stowupland, on February 20.

PC Richard Godden, collision investigator, told the inquest, in Bury St Edmunds, on Tuesday, that Mr Mann may have had a short period of micro-sleep leading to the incident.

It was noted that the lorry was lawfully parked and there was evidence to suggest its back off side light was on at the time.

Austin Adkins, asset manager for the Highways Agency in Suffolk, said the three metre wide, unlit layby was built in the 1970s and did not comply with current safety standards.

However, he revealed there were no current plans to downgrade or close the layby.

Mr Adkins said: “We have to be very careful that the actions we take in relation to a particular accident don’t cause other problems.” He added that if they were to downgrade all the laybys on the A14 there could be an increase in accidents.

Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean, who recorded a verdict of accidental death, said he would write to the Highways Agency and the Department for Transport to see what action could be taken to improve safety on laybys.

After the inquest Mrs Mann said: “I’m dismayed at the apparent lack of urgency and fearful that other families may have to endure tragedy before these downgrades are implemented. The A14 is one of the busiest trunk roads in Britain leading to Britain’s largest container port and yet only half of these sub-standard laybys have been downgraded to emergency stopping only. I would like Edward not to have died in vain and would hope to make the A14 and other roads nationwide safer for motorists.”

She has written to Government agencies, MPs, the Department for Transport, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency and Traffic Commissioner.

She added: “I hope my family’s tragedy will lead to swift action in order to save lives.”