IT is a notorious stretch of Hampshire road known among commuters for its accidents and traffic snarlups.

But urgent calls to improve the A31 at Ringwood have moved up a gear after highways chiefs pledged to examine a raft of new safety proposals.

A crisis meeting has taken place in a bid to reduce the number of crashes and put the brakes on speeding motorists along the heavily-used route.

The Highways Agency has agreed to assess some of the suggestions campaigners have come up with, which include reducing the speed limit from 70mph to 50mph, creating a crawler lane for eastbound lorries and installing signs telling motorists to drive in the correct lane.

The results of their safety probe could be revealed as early as next week.

The action comes just months after Ringwood Town Council launched its campaign for improvements on the dual carriageway between Picket Post and the Ashley Heath interchange.

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling for a raft of new measures.

Town councillors and representatives from New Forest District Council have now met Highways Agency staff to come up with safety solutions.

Michael Thierry, a member of both councils, warned that any major improvements could take “many years” to roll out.

But he added: “There are one or two improvements which they could implement slightly earlier.

“The major one they could do almost instantly is the bringing in of a speed reduction to 50mph from Picket Post. There was a meeting before Christmas with the district and town councils and officers.

“We have been campaigning for the A31 for many years and nothing has changed as yet.

“My view is that I would like to see the 50mph brought in immediately.

“The people of Ringwood are making demands for it.

“I would like to see the speed reduction implemented and then a consultation taking place on what people have thought about it.”