THE A420 has been named the 'most dangerous' road in the south east, as fears grow that it will only get worse as the population booms.

The major link road, stretching from Headington roundabout, through Oxford's centre and to Swindon, has been dubbed the worst stretch in the region.

Banbury Cake: The A420 westbound. Traffic queues from Botley road towards Botley interchange. Pic Richard Cave

It comes as figures published by the Oxford Mail revealed in the past five years 595 crashes have been recorded on the same stretch of road until last August, according to an Oxfordshire County Council freedom of information request.

There have been recent improvements to the road, and others in the pipeline, but Wantage MP Ed Vaizey says the road is 'a cause for concern' and has vowed to push for more to be done.

Concerned residents living near the road blame 'unacceptable' developments along the A420 corridor for worsening congestion, calling for more of the route to be made into a dual carriageway.

Fyfield Land Action Group member John Bradley said: "This is not a surprise to people who live on, or near, this major road.

"It is a single carriageway for much of its length between Swindon and Oxford. Unlike the A34 it is accessed by many small side roads with houses directly fronting onto it in places."

The action group say the road is running above capacity according to their own traffic surveys.

The latest statistics from the Department for Transport show 21,705 vehicles were estimated to have travelled between Tobney Wood and the A34 at Botley on the A420 each day in 2016.

This is the equivalent of one car every four seconds over 24 hours.

In comparison, estimates for the A40 across a similar length stretch from the A4142 Oxford Green Road roundabout to the A418 recorded 34,731 vehicles, with the route entirely dual carriageway.

Banbury Cake: Crash on A420, near Buckland. Pic: Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

The dangerous roads map, commissioned by Regtransfers ranked the entire A420 - taking into account its entire length to Bristol - as the 23rd most dangerous road in the UK with 2.47 crashes per one million vehicle-miles driven.

Mr Bradley added: "Bus passengers are too scared to alight at stops in the vicinity of Fyfield and prefer to continue to the next village, catch a bus back to Oxford and get off on the side of the road where they live.

"This is unacceptable, yet the council persist in building hundreds of new houses along the A420 including a further 700 proposed between the tiny village of Fyfield and neighbouring Kingston Bagpuize."

Plans were submitted in December for the 700-home estate, on fields bordering the A420, and elsewhere there are another 280 homes currently under construction on the corner of the A420 and Witney Road.

Faringdon resident Phillipa Tynan added: "The road should be a dual carriageway throughout. Huge numbers of lorries use it to get to or from Oxford even though they are meant to use the A34.

"There are also a large number of housing estates being built along the road as well as the business park at south Marston.

"It is always very congested as people commute between Oxford, Swindon and the villages in between."

In the past five years [up to August 2017] figures from Oxfordshire County Council show there were 721 people injured in crashes on the A420 - of which 10 were fatal.

In December, an 85-year-old man died as a result of crash between a car and two lorries in Faringdon.

Banbury Cake: Inquest opens at Oxford Coroner's Court into deaths of four killed in horror crash on A420 in Oxfordshire

A year earlier, four festival-goers were killed on the A420 near Shrivenham.

Brogan Warren, Nicoletta Tocco, Sam Kay and Sam Jones died when their car, which was travelling on the wrong side of the road, collided with another family's vehicle.

Wantage MP Mr Vaizey said: "I have been contacted by a number of constituents about the A420. There is clearly cause for concern about the number of accidents that have taken place along its length and I support all efforts to improve it.

"Infrastructure is a key issue in my constituency and I have consistently campaigned for improved road safety. As part of my campaign to improve safety on the A34 I have raised the A420 a number of times and I will continue to push for improvements."

Oxfordshire County Council said A420 improvements have included a new roundabout junction at Shrivenham by-pass, new traffic signals at the junction of the A420 and Coxwell Road and improvements to the roundabout at Kingston Bagpuize.

In addition, there are proposals to improve Park Road roundabout at Faringdon.

Council spokesman Paul Smith said: "The A420 covers Swindon to Headington roundabout, including Botley Road, St Aldates, High Street, St Clements, London Road etc. These are very busy urban roads which will have a much higher accident rate.

"More than 95 per cent of accidents on Oxfordshire’s roads are due to driver error/road user behaviour error. The key thing as ever is that people need to drive to the conditions and in such a way that accidents are much less likely to happen."

The county also noted that people are more likely to use the A420 with no direct rail service between Swindon and Oxford, after the First Great Western and Thames Trains was withdrawn in 2003.