Farmers for Action is urging rural road users to drive with caution when using crossroads with ‘give way’ signs in busy tourist areas.
A meeting this week with David Porter, Divisional Roads Manager and Alan Keys, Network Development Manager centred around the issue of Gracehill Road/Bregagh Crossroads in Co Antrim, near the Dark Hedges.
A recent accident involving the daughter and granddaughter of a member of FFA’s Steering Committee, has brought the total accident tally to five with one fatality of an American tourist last September at this crossroads plus a near miss being reported since the most recent accident.
FFA say the discussions with the Department for Roads were intense, with FFA continually making the case that Stop signs need to be erected immediately. It has been claimed that some tourists don’t understand ‘give way’ signs.
William Taylor, FFA co-ordinator stated at the meeting that give way signs may have a place at a staggered crossroads that has good visibility splays but are past their sell-by date at crossroads, particularly as many have overgrown hedges and limited visibility, as is the case at Bregagh Crossroads.
The meeting continued with the Department stating that they were considering nine different options and are already in the process of putting one in operation, however, although stop signs are a considered option they are still two steps away from being put in place. FFA pointed out that of all the options, replacing the two give way signs at Bregagh crossroads with two stop signs at a cost of £125 each and two council employees in a van for two hours was the least cost of all their options by thousands and thousands and going to have an immediate effect and their budget could certainly cope in spite of cut backs!
FFA went further and said if the budget was an issue they would pay for the two stop signs.
This part of the meeting concluded with the point being made that Give Way signs are an urgent issue across Northern Ireland for tourists and indeed on occasions for natives.
Mr Porter and Mr Keys promised to respond to FFA within three weeks after they hear from the PSNI on the stop signs issue at Bregagh crossroads.
A statement from FFA continued: “FFA did not miss the opportunity to raise the issue of the poor state of many country roads across the province including verge trimming issues.
“FFA asked the two gentlemen if they were familiar with travelling in tractors along roads as 50% have no suspension and the 50% that do are still having trouble coping with the worsen roads situation. In fairness, they answered quite knowledgeably about travelling in tractors and had the experience and therefore understood the problems their budget shortfall is causing.
“The meeting concluded with FFA urging them to respond to the life/death health and safety issue at the Bregagh crossroads with the utmost urgency. Meanwhile, FFA advise farming families, contractors and rural road users to be extra careful when passing through crossroads with give way signs in tourist destination areas until the problem is sorted!” the statement concluded.