A505 driver escapes without serious injury after head-on crash
- Credit: Sally Marchant
A mum involved in an head-on collision on the A505 this week has spoken of her mounting concerns regarding safety on the dual carriageway.
Sally Marchant was travelling towards Baldock from Royston in her Volkswagen Touran with her four-year-old son Daniel and terrier Skylar in tow, when she met with a car facing the wrong direction after it turned out of the Greenfields BP garage.
The garage is only accessible by the dual carriageway, with cars able to join the busy thoroughfare less than 200 metres before from Coombe Road. There is clear signage upon exit of the fuel station that drivers are re-entering a dual carriageway.
The crash wrote off her car and left her with slight injuries requiring a trip to A&E.
"When a car is in the distance, you're not really aware of which direction it's facing or how fast it's going," she said, under the fair assumption that all vehicles are travelling in the same direction on a road of that nature. "When it's a small dot in the distance, you just assume that it's a car in front of you.
"If it was a cow in the middle of the road, I would've been very much aware - and much sooner - that there was something that I needed to avoid. But, because it was a car, obviously it didn't become apparent until I got closer that it wasn't right, and that it was facing in the wrong direction and it wasn't moving."
By the time that she was aware that the car was something she needed to swerve around, Sally's options were limited.
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"I braked and tried to get out the way. I couldn't go left - there were cars to the side of me - and I knew there were cars behind me. I tried to think of other things I could do when I realised there was nothing I could do. I just slammed on the breaks."
The impact on Sally's car came from two sides: from hitting the misplaced car head-on, and from where an unsuspecting driver ploughed into the back of her car.
Sally - from Royston - is thankful that she had so many rational thoughts of in the split-second she had to take action before impact, and is grateful for her awareness of other road users at the time.
Apart from a gouge in her knee and a purple seatbelt bruise, Sally was relieved that her physical injuries weren't too serious and noted that her son "bounced back" pretty quickly.
"The ladies in the BP garage were lovely and really looked after us - they were drawing pictures with my son while I was being interviewed by the police. They were really nice," she added, noting that she dropped them a box of chocolates to profess her thanks once again.
A police spokesperson said: "Police were called at around 9.20am on Tuesday, October 26, to reports of a collision on the A505, towards Baldock.
"Three vehicles were involved, a Saab Aero, a Ford Transit van and a Volkswagen Touran.
"The ambulance service and the fire service were also called to the scene. No serious injuries were reported.
"A partial road closure was put in place to allow emergency services access and for vehicle recovery. The road was clear and re-opened by 11.25am."
Sally's incident involved a vehicle which reportedly turned out of the fuel station in the wrong direction, rather than one of the junctions.
However, a feasibility study back in 2018 found that, on average, one car a day was turning down the A505 the wrong way from the Odsey junction.
A505 campaigner Lynsey Langdon, who was also confronted with a wrong-way driver on the A505 earlier this year, said she would "love to hear from these people who are driving the wrong way" after hearing about Sally's crash.
In 2016, Lynsey's husband Greig was involved in a serious collision on the stretch of road and she then founded the Make the A505 Safer Facebook group. It has since amassed more than 3,000 members and her call for changed has been echoed by the Royston Crow.
"What made them think it was a two-way traffic road?" she asked. "I don’t think we, or the authorities, are going to see what needs putting right if we don’t hear from them.
"I can’t see how this is being able to carry on happening without some kind of investigation from highways on this."
Sally, who said she was "proud" of Lynsey's campaign and working so hard towards making the A505 safer, shared a snap of her crushed vehicle in the Facebook group to raise awareness, as the outcome "could have been much worse."
"Someone on that thread said 'what's it going to take, someone to die on that road for them to do something about it?' and the response is people have died on that road, and they haven't yet done something about it.
Sally stated she's aware of the improvement works on the Litlington junction, making it a left turn-only and installing further signage to prevent future crashes. She hopes that similar action will be taken at other points on the A505.
"I suppose, for not too much expense, the council could increase the no entry signage," she said. "They shouldn't have to, but they could - because it is making things as idiot-proof as possible."
In response to Sally's crash and the make the A505 Safer campaign, a spokesperson from HCC said: "Hertfordshire County Council can confirm a number of improvements have been made along this section of road in response to previous collisions and concerns.
"This has included illuminated 'no entry' road signs at the various crossover junctions in 2017, revised road markings in 2020, new road signage installed in July 2021 along with additional vegetation clearance."