On Monday afternoon 26th March, 2012, a white Smart car and a Subaru are involved in a gruesome accident along the A44 at Oxford, UK. Two people are rushed to John Radcliffe Hospital with life threatening injuries as the southbound section of the A44 is closed near the Oxford Airport turning. Drivers are blocked from entering the scene of accident as one lane of the northbound section of the highway is blocked. A long traffic snare up ensues as police divert traffic to the A4260 and the Langford Lane. Such incidences seem to be the norm on major sections of the A44 which has earned the road a place among the world’s most dangerous roads.
The A44 has earned a negative reputation due to the large number of accidents happening along the route almost on a daily basis. Analysts claim that 25 percent of accidents on this route result from head on collisions. There is a large number of HGV traffic and truckers on this route leading to traffic snare and air pollution. Despite the government’s efforts to install surveillance cameras and other monitoring devices, the number of accidents along the A44 is still on the rise.
The A44 Route This is a major road in the UK that begins from Oxford in the south and ends at Aberystwyth, Wales. The A44 actually originates at a roundabout in Oxfordshire. It then runs northwest in a two mile dual carriageway that cuts through the towns of Kidlington, Woodstock, and Chipping Norton. By the time it enters the town of Cotswolds it is already a single carriageway rising over hills and sharp turns. This section has several black spots caused by tight bends and has very little opportunity for overtaking. Most accidents in this section result from impatient drivers risking to overtake slow moving truckers at tight bends.
The road passes through Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire, snakes through hilly woodland Fish Hill in Worcestershire before it becomes a 3 lane road. From Broadway the A44 becomes even more perilous as it descends steeply with sharp bends before joining the A46 and the A43 at Evesham bypass. From the northern end of the bypass, the A44 heads northwest cutting across several major towns to Rhayader where it joins the A470 in a nine mile stretch to the town of Llangurig along River Wye. It finally passes Llanbadarn village in the outskirts of the town of Aberystwyth and terminates at Pengalis Hill where it joins A487. Many truckers agree with the fact that it is rare to drive through the entire route without chancing upon more than one accident.
Major causes of accidents along the A44 The A44 is mainly a two lane road favored by truckers and drivers plying between different towns along the route. It has however, tallied one of the largest number of accidents in the UK. Any trucker who plies this route will warn you about the road’s reputation as one of the worst roads to drive on in UK. There are many causes for the large number of accidents seen along the A44 almost on a daily basis.
Accidents happen on this route almost on a daily basis. The causes of the accidents are mainly due to bad weather, speed, and unruly behavior of drivers stuck in traffic. Many sections of the route are always covered in dense fog especially on wet days. Dense fog normally affects driving conditions by reducing visibility to almost nil. Besides fog, most accidents can be attributed to traffic snare caused by a large number of truckers plying this route. Like everywhere else, traffic snares are an expected recipe for annoyance, irritability, impatience, and unruly driving behaviors by motorists. What motorists fail to realize is that not everyone can get home at the same time and ignoring traffic laws by overtaking at sharp bends will most certainly result in fatal accidents.
Some of the risky spots on the A44 include the turning to the London Oxford Airport. This section has a speed limit of 70mph but the lights turn red a bit too fast. It is almost impossible to stop suddenly while travelling at 70mph. It is in fact much safer to keep on driving despite the red light. The problem comes in when a trucker jumps the light only for the sedan ahead to screech to a sudden halt. The results can be, and usually are, disastrous.
There is a railway bridge over the A44 half a mile out of the village town of Llanbadan Fawr. The bridge is made of stone and a metal topper that supports the tracks. It has a pavement on the south east side but the north side is quite risky to walk on. A body hurled from above can be a potential cause for a massive traffic pile up on the A44.
Road Safety Measures One of the most highly touted solutions to the problem of road safety along the A44 is the reduction of truckers and other HGV traffic. This is basically because the road is mostly a two way highway unsuitable for heavy commercial vehicles. Truckers are blamed for the long traffic snare that provoke road rage and dangerous moves by impatient motorists plying this route. Accidents involving trucks on hills, bends, and major roundabouts have also been cited as causes of traffic and delays. Fortunately, an Advisory Route with less bends and hills but eight miles longer has been created for HGVs and truckers. There are signs directing heavy commercial vehicles off the A44 to the A40 and the A424 at Evesham. Local businesses have also been urged to use rail freight more than the road.
Despite the government’s concerted efforts to install monitoring devices on the most notorious sections, the police are generally more obsessed with speeding than other causes of accidents. One may not be blamed to think that the obsession with speeding has more to do with revenue creation than eliminating accidents from the A44. For instance, if the police were keen on dangerous driving practices such as failure to indicate at turns, tailgating, and other dangerous maneuvers, the A44 would be safer than it currently is.