Safety concerns over 'dangerous' A361 where grandfather died in crash

The family of a beloved grandfather killed in a crash on A361 have called for changes to prevent further fatal collisions. Melvyn Cole was driving home from work when his Vauxhall Astra was involved in a serious collision with a white BMW 1 Series on the A361 in East Cranmore before 6.40pm on Wednesday, April 17.

Melvyn, from Frome, died at the scene as workers from the nearby Torr Works responded to the collision. Avon and Somerset Police are continuing to investigate the fatal collision and have asked any witnesses to come forward.

His daughter-in-law, Emma Powell, visited the scene with Melvyn’s son Kieren to lay a floral tribute, but observed how fast vehicles travel on this section of the A361 between Frome and Shepton Mallet. They found that motorists were using a turn junction lane to overtake slower vehicles before the A361 expands to a dual carriageway.

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She said: “You have the traffic from the quarry (Torr Works) onto the A361 and they have to pick up speed. It’s a 60mph road so they have to quickly accelerate in case another vehicle is behind them.

“You have traffic that is too fast and can’t slow down and they end up overtaking on the junction turning lane (for Torr Works) instead of waiting for the overtaking lane. The turning lane in the middle you can see has faded white lanes.”

She and her wider family have called for Somerset Council to lower the speed limit and make vital changes such as repainting turning lanes to prevent “further deaths”. She also observed there are no speed cameras to act as a deterrent to speeding motorists.

She added: “It is a fatal accident waiting to happen and we are so sad. It should not be a 60mph road and especially not at that area.”

His family previously shared Melvyn “touched the lives of everyone he met” and "was the nicest gent on the planet". They have since launched a petition to implement safety changes to the A361 in East Cranmore to stop further serious and fatal collisions.

The petition shared: “I don't believe this road should be a national speed limit road as ‘impatient’ drivers think it's ok to cross solid white line or turning lanes, to overtake slow moving vehicles. This road is an exceptionally busy one.

“It's the main road from Shepton Mallet to Frome and also sees many tractors too. I believe the speed limit on this road needs to be reduced and have speed cameras and have turning lanes repainted so they are more visible. Let's not lose another life on this road. Make it safer.”

In response, Somerset Council shared the following statement: “These tragic incidents are still subject to detailed investigations by Avon and Somerset Police and Somerset Council is working closely with the police to understand the circumstances of these collisions.

“This will result in detailed reports which may take some time to complete. If any recommendations are made with regards to the road layout these will be looked at.

“The Council uses injury collision data from the police to assess its future priorities for road safety campaigns and potential engineering solutions. This analysis shaped the development of our Fatal Five campaign to raise awareness of potentially dangerous driving behaviours.

“Following these recent fatal collisions we have met with the local MP and will also be meeting with residents and community leaders at a road safety engagement event next month where we will be listening to people’s concerns about road safety in the area.”

The Fatal Five campaign, backed by Avon and Somerset Police and led by Somerset Council’s Road Safety Team, highlights the key behaviours which can contribute to serious or fatal collisions. A further concerning factor is that nearly half of the fatal collisions were caused by a vehicle crossing into the path of another one.

Following the crash, many first-aid-trained employees at Torr Works rushed out to the collision scene to assist while Mark Perry comforted Melyvn by holding his hand. James Pike, Aggregates South West Regional Director for Aggregate Industries which owns Torr Works, said: “We were very saddened to hear of the passing of the man who was involved in the road traffic collision outside of our Torr Works.

“The local team were first on scene and able to offer immediate first aid support to those involved, prior to the arrival of the emergency services. Our thoughts are with all those impacted by the incident."

Investigations into the fatal crash are ongoing, including reviewing CCTV footage and speaking to drivers in the area at the time. A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police previously said: “We believe there were a number of cars and a green John Deere tractor, which was towing a red silage trailer, travelling in the area at the time.

“We would ask the occupants of those vehicles to please contact us to let us know if they witnessed anything that could help our enquiries. We’d ask them, plus anyone else who witnessed the collision or has relevant dashcam, to please contact us online or on 101 quoting reference number 5224098411.”