I was sorry to read about yet another accident at the A69 Bridge End ‘roundabout’ roadworks in last week’s Courant.

This followed a report, on Facebook, of a crash earlier in the week, which was itself followed by another report of a near-miss yesterday.

There have been complaints on social media ever since the roadworks started about near-misses and crashes, with many people blaming the drivers rather than the planners who designed the system, and who have failed subsequently to modify the design adequately.

People are human, and for one reason or another they make mistakes.

Any system in which health and safety are at risk should recognise this, and should be designed with the worst drivers in mind, not the best.

There are a number of issues at the roadworks, and some of the problems simply represent poor site management - e.g. construction equipment blocking signs.

Others are less obvious, just one example of which is motorists becoming confused because of the number and frequency of signs (including those meant for the construction workers and not A69 drivers).

It can be difficult for a designer to understand a difficulty that might only affect a small proportion of the population (and posts on social media indicate that many ‘good’ drivers have the same difficulty).

Whilst the planner may ask themselves “how can I direct people to behave correctly” and produce a design with that in mind, the question they should be asking is “how can I stop people from behaving incorrectly”?

In the example I’ve given, the naive planner might try to solve the roundabout problem by erecting more signs, which would have exactly the opposite effect to that intended.

The thinking behind the traffic plan, which was effectively to extend the roundabout physically, makes perfect sense.

The problem was, and is, that the planners expected drivers to behave as if the roadworks were a real roundabout, when it just looks like roadworks.

Designing for safety involves recognising the limitations and flaws that other people may have, and your report of the accident indicates that the planners still have not done so.

It is so sad that by neglecting to design for safety, Highways England have failed to provide a system which satisfies all drivers, and not just the most competent.

Had they done so, all of the misery, anger and fear that accidents and near-misses cause could have been avoided.

DR PETER HOWARTH

Allendale