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A303 Dual It! Western Gazette launches campaign to end crash carnage

By Western Gazette - Yeovil  |  Posted: October 25, 2012

  • Today the Western Gazette launches a campaign to lobby the Government to make multi-million pound improvements to the A303 in a bid to save lives and bolster the local economy

  • An A303 crash near Yeovil, from November 2008

  • A crash on the A303 between South Petherton Roundabout and the A356, from April 2009

  • An A303 crash in June 2007

  • An A303 crash near Southfields Roundabout, from December 2008

  • An A303 crash near the Ilminster roundabout, from August 2009

  • A caravan fire on the A303 in 2007

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The A303 is the artery of Somerset carrying 21,000 motorists through the county every day.

Each week more than 100,000 trips will be made by commuters, tourists and businesses.

But statistically one of these journeys will come to a terrifying and premature end.

Police attended nearly 300 road crashes on the A303 between the Eagle Tavern and the Dorset/Wiltshire border between 2007 and 2011, the Western Gazette can reveal.

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On average that works out as one crash every six days.

Seven of the incidents resulted in at least one death.

Department for Transport figures estimate that each crash costs the economy £75,000 – but no price can ever be put on a human life.

Over the past five years the Western Gazette has reported the chaos on the road and the often devastating circumstances.

Only last month Paul Michael Hobday, 60, and Christine Michelle Edney, 69, both of Canvey Island, Essex, died after a collision between a van and car near South Petherton.

After listening to our readers we have come to the conclusion that we can no longer sit back and let the madness continue.

It is time to act.

We will be calling on the Prime Minister David Cameron and Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin to improve the A303 to a dual carriageway through Somerset and Dorset – from the Southfields Roundabout near Ilminster to the Mere bypass.

We will urge the Government to approve this scheme as part of a wider project to improve the A303 and A358 – boosting the economy by reducing congestion.

We believe dualling sections of single carriageway along this stretch will improve safety.

We also call for measures to be considered to improve safety on the A303 between Southfields and Eagle Cross.

In launching this campaign we hope to raise greater awareness of the danger posed by this road and encourage motorists to drive more safely.

CRASHES ON THE A303 - INTERACTIVE MAP

Our interactive map shows details of crashes dealt with by emergency services on the Somerset stretch of the A303 between 2006 and 2011. Data is from the Department of Transport.

Find your way around our interactive map using the navigation controls (top left of the map) or your mouse to scroll, or zoom in or out.

Click on the individual pins for details of each crash including date, time, conditions, number of vehicles involved and severity of injuries.

Red pins mark fatal collisions, yellow pins show collisions involving serious injury and blue pins show collisions with slight injury.

The A303 is one of the country’s most important roads.

It is the gateway to the South West from London and the South East.

Somerset County Council believes that improvements to the A303 and the A358 to Taunton would help businesses thrive and create 13,000 jobs.

Research found 85 per cent of tourists experienced delays on the route and that one-fifth said they would not return.

In the coming weeks and months the Western Gazette will be active in our communities – drumming up support to make the highway safer.

The A303 Dual It! campaign will seek to generate support from our politicians, local businesses and our readers.

Next week we will be speaking to a family whose lives were torn apart by a fatal accident on the road.

Our reporters and photographers will join the emergency services on patrol.

We will speak to paramedics, firefighters and police officers who are among the first on the horrifying scene.

PRINT OUT OR DOWNLOAD YOUR A303 DUAL IT! PETITION

Click here to open our A303 Dual It! petition form. You can then save it to your computer, or print it out.

Alternatively, take a few minutes to fill in our form below.

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  • fazzer1995  |  October 28 2012, 4:45PM

    I cannot believe that you are seriously saying that a duel carriageway is not safer than single lane roads where the cars come within a few feet of colliding. Dueling the A303 has been long overdue, the road is dangerous as it is and by dueling it the number of accidents will drop. This is because the traffic going in the other direction is separated and means that the amount of head on collisions which result in serious injuries or even death, will be massively reduced. But, it is not just about the safety, just look at the congestion on that road everyday, thousands of people commute along that road and it gets so jammed up with traffic because the road is not big enough to support the amount of traffic. The A303 is the main route across the South West and if this area of the country is to see changes, this has to go ahead. The upgraded road will encourage many big retailers and businesses to the area which will create jobs and will help the local economy. If I was in charge of the scheme, I would make it a 3 lane motorway from the M3 at Basingstoke to the M5 at Exeter and I would be backing the plan to increase the speed limit to 80mph. It is people like you that don't want this area to move forward and would much rather it to stay far behind the rest of the country, trapped in an old and outdated age. The Duel Carriageway is the way forward and I will be backing this scheme 100% and so will everybody in my whole family because it is just common sense to see that this has to happen as soon as possible.

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  • Syrrets  |  October 25 2012, 3:18PM

    Based upon the interactive map, if the goal is to improve safety then creating more dual-carriageway does not appear to be the answer. For example the section from Bourton/Zeals past Wincanton to Sparkford is already dual-carriageway and yet it suffers as many accidents as the adjacent single-carriageway section from Sparkford to Podimore (indeed, the dual-carriageway section actually has more red and yellow pins than does the single-carriageway section). Thus, in general, I can see no evidence in this article to support the claim that, "We believe dualling sections of single carriageway along this stretch will improve safety." Apart from the crazy three-lane section of the A303 that comprises the Ilminster bypass, which positively encourages accidents, the case for dualling looks pretty weak. The real culprit that causes accidents is excessive speed (which exacerbates bad driving). You should be campaigning to reduce the speed limit to 60mph and have it rigorously enforced. Additional benefits of reducing speed would be to reduce gaseous emissions and noise pollution - at present there is far too much road noise from the A303 and far too little effort to block or reduce that noise. Please lobby the Prime Minister David Cameron and the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin to put in place noise-reduction measures to improve the quality of life of adjacent residents.

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