Calls to reduce A259 speed limit from Seaford to Newhaven after ‘string of accidents’

Emily O'Brien by the A259.
Emily O'Brien by the A259.

Campaigners are calling for a lower speed limit on a busy coastal road following ‘a string of accidents’ and the death of a Seaford motorcyclist earlier this year.

In a petition to East Sussex County Council, campaigners are calling for a 40mph speed limit on a stretch of the A259 between Seaford and Newhaven, with speed cameras to enforce it.

Ben, then 18-years-old , was knocked down by a bus as he tried to cross the road last summer. Despite suffering a head injury he made a full recovery.

Ben, then 18-years-old , was knocked down by a bus as he tried to cross the road last summer. Despite suffering a head injury he made a full recovery.

Lead petitioner Emily O’Brien says the petition was put forward following a ‘string of accidents’ on the road in the last year, including the death of a 68-year-old motorcyclist at the junction of Marine Parade in September.

Mrs O’Brien has her own personal experience of the road’s dangers, as her 18-year-old son Ben was knocked down while walking home from a bus stop last year.

She said: “He misjudged the crossing and was hit in the head by a bus. Fortunately the bus wasn’t going very fast at the time or he would be dead now.

“He made a full recovery but the thing that really struck me about it was just how incredibly lucky he had been. He was so lucky.

“It has left me feeling really anxious about it since, about all the other children who use the road and particularly about my 13-year-old daughter.”

While concussed, Ben fortunately made a full recovery after several days and – now aged 20 – is studying biology at university.

“My heart absolutely breaks for all the other people who have been killed or injured in all the other accidents that have happened in the year and a bit since then,” Mrs O’Brien said.

“There have been so many accidents, including the recent fatal one. In that week, the road was closed three times. There were three serious accidents in a week and I really think that just changing the junction layout isn’t enough.  

“We need a reduction in the speed limit as well.”

To this end, Mrs O’Brien has launched a petition calling on the council to lower the speed limit to 40mph and install speed cameras to enforce it.  

Mrs O’Brien says a lower speed limit would only add an extra 51 seconds to drivers’ journeys, but would make it far safer for residents living in Bishopstone and elsewhere on the road.

She said: “The road is already very heavily used, it is too busy, and we think it is time we really acknowledge that it isn’t really a rural road that a 60mph limit is appropriate for.

“You can tell that because of the accident rate but also because of the amount of traffic from people who live off that road, even if it isn’t immediately obvious. It really needs to be more consistent with what is a heavily-populated area.

“I think inevitably there are going to be more fatalities. More people are going to die and more people are going to be injured.

“Although there is a cost and a 51 second longer journey for some people – although most of those people would end up sitting in traffic at the other end anyway – the safety benefits will be huge.

“I really think that if it isn’t done then it is only a matter of time before someone is knocked over. One of my children or someone else’s. It really is just a ticking time bomb.”

After submission the petition is expected to be considered by East Sussex County Council’s lead member for communities and safety Bill Bentley.

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “We’re aware of residents’ concerns regarding the speed of traffic on the A259 and of the recent tragic accident on this stretch of road.

“As is the case with any fatal collision, we will be meeting with the police to discuss the circumstances and whether their investigation has identified any highways issues which need to be addressed.

“Reducing the speed limit of a road does involve considerable cost, including carrying out a full consultation, therefore we have to focus our increasingly limited resources on those areas where the need is greatest.

“Lowering the speed limit on the A259 is not a priority for us at present but the lead member for communities and safety will consider the petition in due course.”

For more information about the campaign and to sign Mrs O’Brien’s petition, visit the county council’s website.