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Drive to keep traffic moving on notorious Dales road

[Tuesday 30 January 2007]
sutton bank
A Lorry on the notorious Sutton Bank

A MAJOR campaign to improve safety and keep the traffic moving on a notorious stretch of Yorkshire Dales road - one of the steepest in England - is being mounted and will see information leaflets handed to truckers across the country.

The A170 Thirsk to Scarborough road at Sutton Bank has one of the steepest gradients of any major road in England and heavy goods vehicles regularly get stuck on the road, causing traffic disruption. In an average year, 120 HGVs fail to make the ascent and require police assistance, with another 400 goods vehicles experiencing difficulties, and finding themselves delayed for up to four hours.

Now, in the first phase of a determined effort to keep traffic moving on Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire County Council is co-ordinating a campaign with North Yorkshire Police and the Freight Transport Association to alert HGV drivers to the problems which confront them on the A170.

New signing has been put in place, and a new anti-skid surface has been laid on the most difficult section of the Bank - a hairpin corner - with trials being carried out to evaluate its effectiveness in reducing the number of lorry breakdowns.

Four thousand leaflets and posters are also being distributed to road hauliers and truckstops throughout Britain to highlight the problem.

And more innovative measures are being considered by the county council for the future, including special signs which would only be activated by lorries, and variable message signing to divert traffic when necessary.

We need to get the message across that Sutton Bank is one of the steepest trunk roads anywhere in England, and that using it requires considerable care

Peter Sowray - County Councillor

County Councillor Peter Sowray, executive member for highways, said: "The problem with Sutton Bank, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the road, is that drivers can be misled into thinking they're 'over the worst', because the gradient varies from one section of the road to the next.

"They engage too high a gear, too soon, and then find themselves stuck, with no way of moving any further forward.

"We need to get the message across that Sutton Bank is one of the steepest trunk roads anywhere in England, and that using it requires considerable care."

"The principal advice for HGV drivers is, at the bottom of the Bank, to engage a suitably low gear that provides flexibility to increase or decrease speed without further gear changes … and stay in that gear until you get to the top."

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