Light fault at fatal accident spot known eight years earlier

A flaw with a set of traffic lights that was reportedly corrected after the death of a 10-year-old girl was highlighted by safety inspectors eight years earlier.

The green man lights on Monkswood Way, Stevenage at the junction with North Herts College and ASDA could mislead pedestrians to walk out in front of moving traffic, a report by Herts Highways Safety Engineering Unit said in 2003.

In the report, obtained by the Comet through the Freedom of Information Act, inspectors said the so-called ‘see through problem’, meant “a pedestrian waiting at the eastern kerb can see the signals on the far side of the crossing of the northbound carriageway equally as clearly as the signals in the central reserve for the crossing of the southbound carriageway.

“There are occasions when the nearest signals show red for pedestrians and the furthest signals show green. A pedestrian could be mislead by this layout and walk out in front of a moving vehicle.”

The fault was highlighted as of “particular importance” to be corrected. Inspectors recommended the installation of a backing board to the signal on the eastern side of the central reserve to draw attention to it.

But a safety audit carried out at the crossing following the death of Yesmine Moumen, who was struck on the crossing in December 2010, led engineers to install louvers on the lights to prevent them from being seen from the far side of the road, an inside source said. Herts County Council did not refute the claim last month.

The issue of whether the lights had contributed to the death of the Bedwell School pupil, who was crossing the road with her mother Yvonne when she was hit by a Mercedes E250, was raised during a court case into the accident. The judge ruled the lights had been green for vehicles. Kevin Ruder, the driver of the Mercedes was cleared of causing her death by careless driving.

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Yesmine’s father Toufik said the authority should have acted earlier.

He said: “This goes to show they had not acted on the recommendations of this audit report. The issue was a potential disaster waiting to happen. For so many years the council were waiting for a tragedy to happen before they did something.”

Herts County Council would not comment on whether the original 2003 safety recommendations were made, or any information about the installation of louvers on the lights, because of a legal claim.

A private solicitor representing the council said a letter had been sent by Mr Ruder to the highway authority stating he will bring a claim for compensation for “a number of issues” including damage to the Mercedes and stress.