Judge calls for A1 speed limit to be cut as he sentences driver for causing fatal crash near Wittering

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A CROWN Court judge has called for the reduction of the speed limit on part of the A1 following a fatal crash.

Judge Nic Madge made the call to reduce the speed limit from 70mph to 60mph near the Woodview Services on the A1 near Wittering after sentencing Terence Sim to a suspended prison term for causing the death of his friend and work colleague Ronnie Alderson in 2009.

Sim, 54, of Causey Brae, Hexham, Northumberland, was driving a Ford Transit van on his way back to the North East from Kent where he had been working with Mr Alderson, from Sunderland, just after midnight on October 14, 2009.

However, after misjudging the speed of a lorry leaving the services and briefly taking his eyes of the road to see if his friend was asleep, Sim crashed the van into the back of the lorry.

The force of the accident left 48-year-old Mr Alderson dead at the scene.

The court heard Sim had been travelling at 68mph at the time of the accident, nearly 10mph above the speed limit for a van on the road, while the lorry had been travelling at just 26mph as it pulled away from the services.

On Friday Sim, who was found guilty of causing death by careless driving at a trial last month at Peterborough Crown Court, was given a nine month prison sentence, suspended for two years, ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work and disqualified from driving for two years, He was also ordered to pay £3,000 costs.

Sentencing, Judge Madge said: “You blame the road layout. The exit from the services does not allow vehicles leaving it to acquire speed before joining the carriageway.

“It is also close to the bend. It is by no means the sharpest bend on the A1. There are undoubtedly other bends on the A1 which are far more dangerous. The evidence of the police is that it is unlikely that this collision would have occurred had you been driving at 60mph.

“It is likely that lives would be saved if a 60mph speed limit was imposed for that bend. I urge the authorities to consider this.”

Judge Madge also told Sim he should not have made the journey from Kent to the North East after working a full day as a shop fitter.

He said: “There is no doubt that the factors which contributed to Mr Alderson’s death were your excessive speed breaking the speed limit and your lack of attention.

“In view of the hours that you had worked and the distance which you had driven, you would inevitably have been tired. Your decision to drive the whole length of the country after working all day was clearly wrong.

“There are three sets of points for speeding offences on your licence between 2007 and 2009. They disclose, as did your evidence, a worrying disregard of the speed limits which are in force for the safety of all drivers and pedestrians.

Mitigating, Jonathon Davies said: “This was not the sort of distraction that involved the use of a mobile phone or an electric device.

“It is the sort of thing that happens on all long distance journeys, but normally without incident.

“The defendant drives 54,000 miles every year and is often chosen as a nominated driver at work.

“He is a decent man. He has worked since he was 15 and is a reliable tradesman.

“He used to help his wife at the local scout group and also volunteered as a reserve fireman.”

A spokeswoman for the Highways Agency, which deals with setting speed limits on the A1, said it would not be carrying out a review of the speed limit as a result of Judge Madge’s comments.