THE senior coroner for Oxfordshire has warned there is a risk that future deaths could occur at a Bicester roundabout unless action is taken.

Senior coroner Darren Salter sent a report to Oxfordshire County Council as the highways authority saying despite improvements to the Vendee Drive roundabout on the A41, 'there is a reason for continued concern'.

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It comes after the conclusion of an inquest into the death of David Lewis who died at the scene of a crash at the roundabout on July 16, 2020.

Mr Lewis was driving north from junction 9 of the M40 motorway towards Bicester on the A41 when he overshot the roundabout at Vendee Drive at speed causing his vehicle to become air borne and land upside down.

Mr Salter said it appeared that Mr Lewis failed to detect the presence of the roundabout on his approach and although he was intoxicated with alcohol, there is a 'significant history' of very similar accidents with cars overshooting the junction.

This was the fourth fatal crash in three years in the area, with the last happening in June 2019 when Bicester couple Kenneth Jarvis, 77, and Gillian Jarvis, 80, both died.

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In August 2018, 29-year-old Thomas Nelson from Cholsey near Wallingford, died in a crash on the A41 when his BMW careered off the busy dual carriageway and smashed into a tree.

Mr Salter said in his report to the council: "In my opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe your organisation have the power to take such action."

The 40mph speed limit on the roundabout approach on the A41 was extended by 240 metres and a 50mph speed limit was introduced for 670 metres in advance of that last June.

But the coroner feels more safety measures need to be implemented.

He said: "I understand these amendments were likely to be the result of a review which took place after a double fatality in June 2019.

"I am concerned that despite improved signage and reduced speed limits there is still the danger of drivers not noticing the roundabout in sufficient time."

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Mr Salter suggests that engineering improvements may need to be made such as rumble strips/bars on the road surface which could help warn drivers of the roundabout.

Oxfordshire County Council has confirmed it has indeed replied to the coroner's report in the 56-day timeframe set by Mr Salter.

It is looking at a variety of options including changing the approaching lanes from three to two.

A council spokesperson said: "As outlined, a series of significant highway modifications have been made to improve safety at the northbound approach to the roundabout on the A41.

"Additional measures to improve safety are under consideration. These include additional speed limit painted roundels on the lanes approaching the roundabout. These would act as a greater visual reminder of the speed limit on the approach to the roundabout.

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"It is also proposed to remove the short third lane by painting hatched lines on it. This will reduce the approach to two lanes but with a minimal impact to the capacity on the northbound approach to the roundabout."

County councillor Ian Corkin, whose Ploughley division includes Vendee Drive roundabout, called for traffic lights to be installed at the roundabout and for an immediate safety audit of the A41 last year.

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