Mon, 10 Oct 2016
FRESH calls for safety improvements on the A34 have been made by campaigners and politicians at a meeting of the A34 Action Group.
Concerns were raised that the road is no longer fit for purpose owing to the large amount of traffic now regularly using it, prompting demands for urgent action.
The introduction of crawler lanes and average speed cameras along certain stretches of the major trunk road was suggested at last week's meeting, which heard from Newbury MP Richard Benyon and representatives from the Road Haulage Association, the Joint Roads Policing Unit Hampshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police, and Oxford County Council.
Safety on the dual carriageway has been in the spotlight following a number of fatal collisions, including an eight-vehicle pile-up at East Ilsley, which claimed the lives of a mother and three children in August.
Just two weeks later, three-year-old Isla Wiggin and her unborn baby brother died in a crash at Hinksey Hill in Oxfordshire.
Speaking after Monday’s meeting, Richard Benyon said it was important for the improvements to become a priority given the recent fatalities, coupled with the continued increase in road users.
He said: “Safety is our primary concern.”
“The quantity of traffic on this road is set to increase even more and it’s already beyond the expectations of those who planned the road decades ago.
“Things like Southampton container port expansion, new houses in West Berkshire and Oxfordshire, as well as this route being the major route connecting the South with the Midlands and West, means we have to have action on it now.”
Mr Benyon again pointed to improvements suggested in a Highways England feasibility study, which are yet to be implemented, including an electronic traffic management system.
He said: “The plan is to introduce this by 2020.
“But, there are some pretty quick ones that could be introduced speedily.
“Chevrons on the road, these sort of things, can make a difference and then, of course, there needs to be some wider and strategic discussions about the importance of the road.”
Meg Williamson of the A34 Action Group said: “The aims are still very clear, ‘making a safer A34’, but we are aware that we need long-term goals.
“Similarly, some quick fixes such as signage, cutting back vegetation and policing have been highlighted as a must.
“It’s given us a real boost in morale and confidence to know that we have the backing of those that can help us make the changes – a definite step in the right direction.”
Following last week’s report in the Newbury Weekly News, revealing the causes of collisions along an eight-mile stretch of the A34, calls to address driver behaviour along the busy stretch have also been made.
Co-founder of the A34 Action Group Alisdair Cunningham said: “Driver behaviour and general driving awareness are a serious issue that must be addressed as these are, in effect, mostly avoidable accidents.
“We are looking at how to tackle this issue.
“The A34 Action Group has been in contact with road safety and driver-awareness companies and charities in order to discuss possible solutions and share information and knowledge of solutions that already exist.”