The Western Gazette is calling on the Government to improve the A303 through Somerset and Dorset. The Dual It campaign has already attracted considerable public support. This week Yeovil Town legend Darren Way, who had his playing career ended by a serious car crash, lends his backing. Now the Glovers’ technical coach, he tells sports editor Chris Sweet why the road must be made safer...
A professional footballer whose career was ended by a car crash believes the opportunity to save lives on the A303 is too good to miss.
Yeovil Town technical coach Darren Way was inspired to back the Western Gazette’s Dual It campaign after reading of the death of Santino James.
The 20-year-old’s mother lent her support earlier this month on the first anniversary of the three-car collision that ended her son’s life.
Father-of-two Mr Way was a midfield favourite for the Glovers when he was seriously injured in a collision between a van and a 4x4, close to the A303 on the A3088 Cartgate Link Road, near Yeovil, in December 2007.
The injuries he sustained forced his retirement and, to date, have seen him undergo almost 20 operations.
Mr Way, 32, of Ilchester Road, revealed he has also required support from a psychiatrist just to get back on the road.
He said Mrs James’ account and his own experiences meant there could be no excuses not to make the A303 safer.
Mr Way said: “As I have been involved in an accident I am obviously more aware of what is concerned. When we are out driving I am a lot more cautious about what could happen – and more cautious than I ever was before.
“Could someone cross over to the other side of the road? I probably wouldn’t have thought so before. Once it has happened to you, you start thinking ‘is this person going to overtake or cross over on the other side of the road?’
“When I am driving up and down the A303 and I see people desperate to get home, they are overtaking at 60mph and missing cars by 20 yards. Does the A303 invite that? Of course it does, it’s that type of road.
“Changes aren’t talked about enough and arguments are made about it costing money. While all this is happening and no changes are made collisions are going to keep happening.
“I have never been comfortable on that road, even though my job has involved a lot of travelling.
“Over the last month we have spent 30 hours on a coach and covered 1,200 miles. I have done that knowing that there has been a risk every time I have been on the A303.
“It has taken me a very long time to be able to go on that road and I have worked with a psychiatrist to go through the process of why I feel uncomfortable.
“I am really for a campaign that will help save lives. There are always going to be accidents but if there is a chance to reduce that risk then why not do it?”
Mr Way, who includes Norwich City and Swansea City among his former professional clubs, said he counts himself lucky to be still alive following his smash. He suffered multiple broken bones and had to learn to walk again.
The driver of the van he was passenger in, Bruce James – stadium technician at Huish Park – suffered a broken collar bone, dislocated hip and deep lacerations to his shins.
Mr Way accepted there will be opposition to making changes to the A303, but added they were vital to avoid life-changing crashes.
“Anyone that goes through any car accident has got to deal with the trauma psychologically and physically,” Mr Way said. “It is up to you how you get over it and the impact it has on you.
“All of the factors, until you have gone through them, are hard to explain. But you are certainly more aware of it happening again. People have to drive this forward to make our roads safer.
“It’s easy not to change things and the hardest thing is to push for that change. The initial issue will be money but the bigger picture will bring less cost.
“There will be less effect on peoples’ lives. It will take time but you have got to put something into place.
“Everything has to start somewhere and this is the start of a campaign for a change for the good.
“There will be obstacles and, no doubt, objections from the powers that be – but if they had someone who had been involved in an accident they wouldn’t object.
“You have got to start somewhere and this is the start of trying to bring massive changes as we are talking about peoples’ lives.”
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