REVEALED: Causes of serious collisions on the A34

Failing to look, sudden braking, alcohol and illness have all been factors in crashes along an eight mile stretch north of Newbury

Chris Ord


Chris Ord

A34 northbound reopened following earlier collision

NEW statistics obtained by the Newbury Weekly News have revealed the number and cause of all serious accidents along the A34 in the last five years.

Failing to look properly, misjudging the path of other vehicles, following too close, alcohol and even illness or disability have all been contributing factors in road traffic collisions between Chilton and Chieveley.

The shocking statistics, released to the NWN by Thames Valley Police, also show that since 2011 there have been 99 collisions along the eight-mile stretch which have resulted in a fatality or injury – with almost 60 per cent of the collisions occurring on the northbound carriageway.

Safety along the A34 has been questioned recently following a number of recent accidents including the horrific eight-vehicle pile-up which claimed the lives of 45-year-old mother Tracey Houghton, her two sons Ethan and Josh, aged 13 and 11, and her partner’s 11-year-old daughter Aimee Goldsmith, and a crash in June in which 28-year-old Gavin Roberts died.

The data, however, only includes collisions until April 2016 meaning these accidents are not included.

There were three accidents on the short stretch of road which resulted in a fatality between January 2011 and April 2016, while 10 resulted in at least one serious injury.

While speeding has been cited as the most probable cause of accidents by campaigners the figures show there have been many other contributing factors.

The most common cause of collisions (23) was motorists failing to look properly or failing to judge the path or speed of other vehicles.

The figures, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, show the cause as determined by the officers at the scene, and while not expressly stated, speed may also have been a factor in all cases.

The next most common cause was drivers failing to look properly before performing a manoeuvre (14), while 10 collisions were caused as the result of a slippery road surface due to the weather.

Nine accidents were deemed to have been caused due to drivers losing control of their vehicle and eight as a result of sudden braking.

There were six collisions in the last five years resulting from drivers following another vehicle too closely.

According to the statistics three accidents were caused by the driver being impaired by alcohol, while two were caused by a distraction in the vehicle.

Following the most recent fatalities on the A34 Newbury MP Richard Benyon met with neighbouring MPs, Ed Vaizey, MP for Didcot and Wantage, and Nicola Blackwood, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon to demand improvements on the dual carriageway which runs through their three constituencies.

A meeting with roads minister John Hayes has been arranged in the coming weeks.

An A34 Action Group has also been founded with campaigners also demanding safety improvements, while a separate petition, which has so far gained more than 2,000 signatures, is calling for a reduction in the speed limit along the “dangerous” stretch of road.

The group is set to have its second meeting, which will hear from Mr Benyon among other guest speakers, on Monday, October 3 at 8pm at Chilton village Hall.

Safety remains an ongoing concern for many motorists along the A34 as a whole with another two crashes on Sunday.

At 9pm fire engines from Newbury were called to the A34 south, near Chieveley, to a two-vehicle collision.

A woman was discovered trapped by her feet in the dashboard of a Nissan pick-up and had to be freed by firefighters.

She was treated at the scene by paramedics and taken to hospital.

The A34 south was closed throughout the incident.

Earlier that same day (Sunday) a man had a lucky escape on the A34, after a car careered up an embankment, before crashing into a tree.

One fire engine from Newbury and two more from Oxfordshire, were called at 4pm to the A34 north, between the Chilton and Milton interchanges, where a grey Hyundai Getz had left the carriageway.

The driver had managed to get out of the vehicle, and according to firefighters was badly shaken.

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Article comments

  • Yvonne

    03/10/2016 - 11:11

    I drive this road every day, it is nothing to do with speed, it is the lack of knowledge of how to drive with people sitting in the wrong lane plodding along at 45 miles per hour, people trying to join the a34 at beedon and east ilsley also stop dead on the slip road! instead of adjusting there speed to join the A34 when there is space to do so. I thought the police were monitoring people sat in the outside lanes of dual carriage ways and motorways when not overtaking??


  • ExNewbury

    01/10/2016 - 09:09

    Well theres a surprise. Bad driving, not bad roads cause accidents.


  • Blunt

    01/10/2016 - 08:08

    Stop blaming drivers for making mistakes. Mistakes happen. If you want the road to be safer it needs to be 3 lanes. This will reduce the bunching effect. This can all be proved with mathematical modeling , however the only math that planners are looking at is the final cost.


    • BorisTheTamp

      04/10/2016 - 12:12

      math?math? whats that?


    • mph999

      01/10/2016 - 09:09

      Mistakes happen, yes, but not mistakes such as changing music on the phone, which was reported as the cause of the 8 vehicle pile up taking 4 lives. I make mistakes, we all do, but I learn from my mistakes and in 24 years of driving have never been the cause of an accident, though was hit from behind once, cunningly enough, by a driver not paying attention. Like it or not, the vast majority of accidents are driver error. Quite simply, people don't take driving, a task that most of us carry out each day, that has the possibility of causing life changing or life ending consequences seriously enough. Driving requires 100% attention, as soon as you start doing anything else, phone calls (even hands free), chatting to passengers, thinking about work or other issues and so on, then the driving standard drops. The main cause of accidents, isn't dangerous roads, isn't speed ( though this affects the consequences), it is driver behaviour and standards of driving.


      • Chris1973

        02/10/2016 - 13:01

        Agree 100%, unlike a lot of other mistakes made whilst behind the wheel there is nothing accidental about using a mobile phone whilst driving, you never 'accidentally' find yourself holding a phone whilst driving a car its always a premeditated action requiring a thought process and a decision being made. Sadly there are now two families and countless friends grieving for the loss of the 4 lives, plus two other members of the family who will probably never be able to fully get over what they witnessed from the car behind, and all because of the alleged actions of a so called 'professional driver'. The penalties of such actions need to be more severe, using a mobile phone should carry a 2 year driving ban for the first offence, and a lifetime ban for any second offence, in relation to deaths arising from accidents where mobile phone use was the prime cause, then it should carry manslaughter charges, this is the only way of separating some adults from their handheld comfort blankets!.


  • Blizzard

    01/10/2016 - 02:02

    No mention of age of drivers. Some really old people that I suspect wouldn't pass the test now. Also Trucks, overtaking going up hill is like watching two Zeppelins racing. Lane 2 hogging Speed is always and issue as cars drive at over 10 mph (except M25 or A339 during the day). Reducing the speed will not be enforced, as already mentioned, during peak times its slow going. I've said it many times.... Driving Standard's and behavior need improving.


    • gumby

      02/10/2016 - 09:09

      Trucks overtaking.. The germans call it Elefantenrennen, or Elephant Race as a lot of autobahns are 2 lane


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