Britannia Bridge: coroner’s warning over safety concerns

Andrew Dixon

A coroner has warned there could be more fatalities on the Britannia Bridge unless action is taken to improve safety measures.

It follows the death of a pharmaceutical rep near the crossing in August. Elijah Shotade from Rugby was travelling westbound onto Anglesey when his Audi car crashed into a lorry.

Mr Shotade (31) was pronounced dead at the scene of the collision, which closed the bridge for around eight hours, leading to major tailbacks in the area.

A report into the crash found Mr Shotade had overtaken two vehicles before his vehicle struck the HGV on the eastbound carriageway. He did not return to the westbound side of the bridge before the crash occurred.

Dewi Pritchard Jones, the coroner for North West Wales, said there had been numerous collisions around the bridge which were almost identical.

He warned drivers seemed to wrongly believe the eastbound lane of the bridge was the offside lane of a dual carriageway, having been used to driving along the A55. He added sat-nav systems were only making the problem worse by telling motorists to ‘bear right’.

Mr Jones said: ”The result of this is that they find themselves in the eastbound carriageway of the bridge and on leaving the bridge they are unable to turn to their nearside lane due to the presence of barriers.”

In January, North Wales Police raised concerns about the bridge to the Welsh Government following two incidents at the end of last year.

In December 2017, a Polish driver crashed head on into a car after his van ended up on the wrong side of the central barrier. The Skoda driver was seriously injured and the van driver, Zbigniew Mularczyk, was jailed for sixteen months.

The other involved a near-miss when a vehicle travelling westbound entered the wrong carriageway, allegedly after being instructed by its sat-nav.

Checks found there was no pattern of similar collisions in the previous five years – but the Welsh Government decided to reinforce safety on the bridge and ban overtaking along the whole bridge by extending double white lines and adding lane direction arrows.

The work was due to start in September – shortly after the crash which killed Mr Shotade.

Officials said their work had been completed with improvements to signage to follow – but they warned drivers not to follow sat-nav instructions if they’re likely to endanger other users, and to obey road markings.

A spokesperson said: ”The works outlined seek to reinforce the driver’s understanding of the road layout at this location. However, ultimately drivers remain responsible for ensuring they do not fall below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver.”

The inquest into Mr Shotade’s death was opened and adjourned at Caernarfon – it will resume at a later date.

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