A FAMILY of a trainee teacher killed in front of her mum as she was driving to work have revealed their “desperate” sadness.
Rhiannon Smith, from Llandevaud, Newport, was killed while driving to work on the A48 in 2017, with her mum Gill witnessing the crash.
The 21-year-old’s family have described the incident as “desperately sad” and do not want another family to go through what they did.
Her parents, Dr Julian Smith and Gill Smith, are now calling for the road to have the speed limit lowered in the interests of safety.
Gill had been driving with her sister when she saw her daughter’s silver Toyota Yaris pull out of the junction and be hit by a Range Rover.
Rhiannon Smith, a 21-year-old trainee teacher from Llandevaud, died from her injuries from the crash on the A48 in 2017.
Now, there are renewed calls for the lowering of the speed limit on the road, backed by Rhiannon’s parents Dr Julian Smith and Gill Smith.
Her dad Julian, 61, told Wales Online: “It was one morning when Rhiannon was driving. She was a student teacher, and she was driving to her placement in the morning.
“She was turning right out of Llandevaud Lane onto the A48, and as she pulled out there was a parked car there.
“The oncoming car couldn’t see Rhiannon. Unfortunately the car was travelling at 50mph, which is the current speed limit, but when you have two cars colliding at that sort of speed then the consequences are generally catastrophic.”
AWARE OF THE DANGERS
At the inquest into Rhiannon’s death a statement from her mum said: “I drove a small distance to the junction of Chepstow Road.
“We are all aware of the dangers going out onto the main road. We’ve all had close calls with various pulling outs of this lane.
“I later stopped to wait for the bus. Sophie was looking at her mobile phone or a book and a short time later I saw Rhiannon’s car pull out of the junction.
“There was a steady flow of traffic from Chepstow to Newport and the next thing I can remember was the crash. Rhiannon had been hit by a Range Rover coming from the right side behind me.
“I jumped out of the car and could see she was injured so I ran back to Sophie and asked her to call an ambulance.”
Police admitted at Rhiannon’s inquest that the biggest factor in the collision was a car parked legally on the road which had blocked the vision between her car and the oncoming Range Rover.
The inquest heard that Rhiannon had sustained a severe traumatic brain injury, and died on March 22.
You can’t bring back Rhiannon, but you’d like to think that whatever we could do to prevent it from occurring again
Dr Smith added: “One of the aspects of the collision was that there was a parked car at the junction and neither party could see past the parked car.
“We wanted to improve the safety at that particular junction between Llandevaud and the A48.
“She was a lovely person. Her personality was appreciated by the kids she was teaching. And her friends and family have obviously been devastated by her loss.
“You can’t bring back Rhiannon, but you’d like to think that whatever we could do to prevent it from occurring again.
“It’s interesting how these sorts of things change your attitude towards road safety, and speed and travelling on the road. It really does affect the way you think about these things.
“And obviously we’d be devastated to think it could happen to anyone else, so whatever we can do to highlight these issues to other people then that’s a small step in the right direction for us.”
Following campaigns from the family, double yellow lines, bollards and vehicle-activated signs have all been implemented on the stretch of A48 in question.
But they still want to see more action taken, and ultimately think lowering the speed limit is the only option.
Dr Smith added: “The final part of our campaign is that we think the 50mph speed limit, certainly at that junction and probably at other junctions on the A48, is too high.
“Any reduction would be a step in the right direction. In my dreams I’d like to get it to 30, but I think a more realistic ambition might be 40.
“The feedback I get from individuals is that they certainly do feel that the junction is dangerous. There have been lots of near misses reported by residents at that junction.
“The dangers of the junction of the A48 in the village has been a continuous talking point with local residents. In fact, one of the other residents, one of their children had an accident there and had serious injuries to their legs.”
In the Smith family’s efforts to lower the speed limit, they have also received support from local politicians.
Newport East MS John Griffiths has backed the campaign, saying: “The speed of traffic on the A48 between Newport and Chepstow has always been a worry, especially for the residents who live in the villages and hamlets situated along this stretch of road.
“I know steps have been taken by the city council, including the recent installation of vehicle activated speed signs.
“That is a testament Julian and other local residents who have tirelessly campaigned on these issues.
“However, I think there is a strong case to lowering the speed limits on parts of the road which are currently 50 and 40 and make them 40 and 30 respectively.
“What happened to Rhiannon was desperately sad and we must never want to see that happen or another family have to go through that again.
“I have and will continue to raise the issues with Welsh Government and Newport City Council because it is in all our interests to make our roads safer.”
Source: The Sun