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