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Death toll of 'Hell's Drive'
Today we reveal just how dangerous Oxfordshire’s “hell’s drive” is.
There have been 21 fatal collisions involving 22 motorcyclists, drivers and pedestrians who have lost their lives on the A420 since 2002.
Most recently, vet Rachael Jackson, 25, from Lyne Road, Kidlington, died near Buckland after the van she was driving was involved in a collision with a lorry on April 4.
Less than a week later, the same stretch of road was closed for several hours after a blue Toyota Yaris and a white Mitsubishi Canter collided, injuring two people on April 10.
In total there have been 363 fatal, serious or minor crashes on the A420 in the past 10 years.
Oxfordshire-based road safety expert Dan Campsall pointed to the fact that many of the crashes were clustered around junctions, which he said was to be expected on busy commuter routes.
He added: “traffic emerging from side roads, increased danger from overtaking or travelling at very different speeds all adds to the challenge that drivers face on roads like the A420.”
Although there is no suggestion that any of the recent crashes were down to speed, people living along the route feel slowing drivers down would help improve safety.
Lynne Cane, landlady at the Hinds Head pub, in Kingston Bagpuize, said: “They call it hell’s drive.
“There isn’t a speed camera along our stretch. It might help to put one there, or maybe more roundabouts.”
And Mandy Scott, who works at Buckland Primary School and uses the road regularly because she lives just outside Faringdon, agreed the road was dangerous.
She said: “We’ve got two children, aged 11 and 12, who need to cross the road in the mornings and evenings. We have to send an adult with them, because it’s just not safe enough, which is difficult with work.
“There are always stones on the road. When a lorry drives past they can flick up.
“Sometimes cars will stop to let you cross, but it’s two lanes, so you don’t know if the next car will stop. It’s too dangerous for a child to see, but it’s not the car’s job to stop.
“A crossing there would be great. Cameras would help, because it would only slow people down.
“You can’t stop the traffic, but lots of problems are caused by overtaking, so maybe putting down solid white lines in would help.”
At Buckland Primary School road safety is also a concern, with 60 per cent of pupils travelling from outside the village, most using the A420.
Headteacher Louise Warren said deaths on the road had an impact on pupils at the school.
She said: “Emotionally, it’s very difficult for some of the children in the village. Some parents try to keep their children away from that end of the village.
“Certainly a crossing would help slow the traffic down – the cars move very fast.
“Fortunately, in my time, there have been no incidents involving the children.”
Kevin Clinton, the head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa), said: “Driving in rural areas, even on high-quality A-roads, is more dangerous than driving in urban areas: 40 per cent of road deaths occur on rural A-roads.
“In 2010, 657 people lost their lives on A-roads in rural areas, compared with 307 people on A-roads in urban areas.
“The higher speeds on these roads give people less time to react and result in more severe impacts, that all too often prove to be fatal.”
Casualty figures: Accidents on the A420 in Oxfordshire in the past 10 years:
Fatal 21, with 22 people dead.