The 'awful' Essex road residents fear living on after fatal crashes

People living and working on a busy road near Chelmsford have spoken of their fear and concerns about motorists after the fifth person was killed in a crash in three years. The A414 is a major route connecting Writtle and Harlow close to the M11.

It's a mostly single-carriageway road with a 60mph speed limit. Data held by Essex County Council shows there have been 11 serious and four fatal crashes on the A414 between Chelmsford and J7 of the M11 since April 2021.

This is an increase from the two fatal and six serious collisions recorded between April 2019 and March 2021. Tragically an elderly woman died after a crash on the A414 on May 1, taking the road's death toll since October 2021 to five.

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The number of road fatalities has led to concerns being raised among local people. Mrs Harrington, 92, lives on the A414 and told EssexLive: "It's an awful road. The speed the people go through is the worst bit. It's always quite fast.

"There's always traffic. It's a job to get out when you are going anywhere. We need to dial the speed down, especially where there is the roads and houses and people turning in and out. I don't think the council does enough. We feel quite isolated here. Coming out the driveway you really have to watch what is going on."

Stuart Clark, 44, is the general manager at The Fox and Goose pub adjacent to the A414. He told EssexLive that crashes can have a "detrimental" impact on his business.

He said: "I think it's not so much the road that's the issue, it's the way people drive and the way people take advantage of long stretches and quite good visibility. People take unnecessary chances."

Mr Clark suggested decreasing the road's speed limit from 60mph to 50mph, or using average speed cameras, could provide a positive impact. The local businessman, who said he thought there would have been more fatal collisions, said: "More needs to be done. Cameras are a deterrent for the part that the camera is in action.

"It's a deterrent for the metres it's there but I think an average speed camera along the road would be of greater benefit. That would be better than one or two police monitoring it."

Mrs Harrington, 92, who lives in a cottage on the A414
Mrs Harrington, 92, says the road can be "awful" at times -Credit:Matt Lee/EssexLive

Adam Pipe, head of Essex Police's Roads Policing Unit, said they would support measures being introduced to make the A414 safer. They said: "The A414 is a key road, a strategic link between Chelmsford and the M11, and as part of our commitment to road safety in Essex we regularly carry out proactive patrols and speed checks along this stretch. Appreciating this stretch has seen a number of serious collisions in recent years, I would of course welcome any longer-term measures targeted towards making the road safer.

"For our part, road safety continues to be a force priority. We have always stayed firm in our belief that one death on our roads is one too many. We make every effort to reduce the number of fatalities on our roads and this isn’t just through proactive patrols carried out by our RPU.

They added: "There is enforcement – and we regularly place dangerous and careless drivers before the courts – but there is also education. We will continue to educate and inform drivers about the impact dangerous driving can have on the wider community and we will enforce the law.

"The work of the RPU supports Vision Zero – our ambition to have no road deaths in Essex by 2040 or sooner. As we work towards realising this ambition, we continue to keep unfit drivers off our roads."

In the first three months of 2024, RPU officers arrested more than 580 drivers in connection with drink or drug driving.

Essex Highways said they have a team of staff who carry out investigations into fatal accidents to determine whether any highway-related facts have contributed. This includes reviewing the past 10 years of collision data in the area.

A spokesperson said: "If clear patterns or trends are found and remedial highways measures can help prevent them, these will be put forward for consideration through Casualty Reduction schemes. As part of the Safer Essex Roads Partnership (SERP), we are supporting Vision Zero.

"This is a countywide ambition to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on the county’s roads by 2040. The Partnership cannot achieve Vision Zero alone. They need the support of the whole community.

“However we use the roads – whether we drive, walk, cycle, scoot or travel on horseback – each and every one of us has an important role to play in sharing the roads safely. Please visit for more information."