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Accidents, risk, and the B4027

Those who know and love B4027 for its scenery and rolling English road character will also acknowledge that it has accidents. Some years ago Oxfordshire County Council published figures for accidents over the period 1994-1999; there had been 28 accidents involving an injury over five years, or one injury accident every nine weeks between Islip and Forest Hill. 

OCC figures for the last five years for the same stretch of road, excluding any built-up sections, total one fatal accident, four involving serious injury, and 23 with minor injury. The same number of injury accidents as for the previous five years, and the same hot spots, namely junctions and sharp bends. An injury accident still occurs once every nine weeks somewhere between Islip and Forest Hill. I witnessed the fatal accident and it was probably caused by a driver having a blackout causing a head on collision.

In case anyone wonders about how this risk relates to general road travel risks, some figures might help. In the UK about 3,500 people die on the roads every year, in cars, on motorcycles, pedal cycles, of foot, and in buses and lorries. Some forms of transport are less safe than others, but stick with the crude numbers for a moment. For every person who dies, 10 are seriously injured, and 77 more have some lesser injury, reflecting the pattern on the B4027.  

Of the 60 million people in the UK, 300,000 have some injury travelling on the roads every year. That is 1 in 200 of us, every year; over a lifetime of 70 years, that makes the risk about 1 in 3 of some injury in a road accident. For serious injury the lifetime risk is about 1 in 25, and the lifetime risk of dying in an accident is about 1 in 250. Figures for the USA are similar. 

Travelling on the roads in the UK is an incredibly risky business, which is why as a society and as individuals we strive to reduce this, with breath tests (and soon drug tests), seat belts, air bags, and better road design. Accidents aren't just theoretical, though, but on our doorstep.

Not every document that comes from our District or County Council could be regarded as fascinating reading. A possible exception is the OCC Casualty Report for 1999 and Road Safety  Plan for 2000/1. Its 36 pages of detailed   analysis of road traffic accidents demonstrates that  OCC commitment to  make Oxfordshire a safer place.

Particularly, local interest comes from information about the B4027 A34 via Islip to Wheatley, with  a number of local sites either under review or being monitored. It also tells us the number of accidents with injuries between 1994 and 1999. The 'hot spots' are:

Islip - junction with A34 southbound 6 accidents

Islip - bend just north of village 3 accidents

Woodeaton turn 4 accidents

Bends by Beckley Manor entrance 4 accidents

Bends by Lodge Farm 5 accidents

White House crossroads 6 accidents - the main problem here is that vehicles entering the B4027 from Horton cum Studley cannot see past the White House and if a vehicle is approaching fast from the Islip direction it is unsighted until it comes round the bend at the last minute.

The total is 28 accidents involving an injury over five years (which is one every nine weeks) on a road that most of us use several times a day. It's a sobering thought.

Thanks to Dr Andrew Moore for the information.