Shocking roadworks research prompts ‘report incidents and abuse’ call

Highways England today urged its supply chain to stand together to improve safety as it was revealed that reported abuse cases have risen by 10% in 2020 compared to the same period last year, despite the lower traffic flows as a result of Covid-19 restrictions - a move backed by Safer Highways.

To mark Road Safety Week Highways England, Safer Highways and the supply chain are urging all roadworkers to ensure they report any and all incidents of both incursions and abuse. This data is vital in order to inform traffic management through roadworks and to ensure any behavioural hotspots are targeted.

The company revealed:

  • There were nearly 6,500 incidents of incursions October 2017 and October 2020 – an average of 175 a month.

  • There were around 330 incidents of abuse reported from Sept 2019 to October 2020, an average of nearly 1 every day.

  • There’s been a 10% increase in abuse incidents in the first 9 months of 2020 compared to the first 9 months of 2019 – with lower traffic flows in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions.

A selection of CCTV footage shows the range of ways that roadworkers are at risk from road users.

One clip shows a driver ignoring a road closure only to find that the road was closed to allow a crane to dismantle a bridge.

Other examples show how a lack of concentration can lead to drivers veering into the cones or even following roadworks vehicles into the roadworks.

Mark Byard, Director of Health and Safety at Highways England said.

“Our roads keep the country moving, keep families connected and businesses in business, so our roadworkers are vital to everyone’s wellbeing, and their wellbeing is vital to us.

175 reported incursions a month is far too many and it’s an issue on all types of roads, for our whole industry. I’m proud of the way the Highways sector has come together to raise awareness of the issue. We urge members of supply chain to report all incidents of incursions and abuse. Together we can make a difference.”

Highways England has recently lead a cross-industry project to raise awareness of road worker safety. Collaborating with 18 supply chain companies across the highways industry, such as Amey, Balfour Beatty and Skanska, Highways England has spear-headed the creation and production of a short video aimed at the public to educate them that driving into roadworks puts construction and maintenance workers at risk.

Showing the young daughter of a road worker who aspires to be just like her dad, the emotive video drives home the message that the public should abide by roadwork markings. It shows how dangerous it is when an incursion happens and highlights the people working behind the road cones, emphasising that they have as much right to get home safe and well as everyone else.

This video is also accompanied by a further 13 short films produced by Highways England’s supply chain partners. Aimed at construction and maintenance roadworkers, they illustrate what to do if someone drives (or walks) into works. These videos are being used in training and briefings on sites to help keep the roadworkers on site safe from incursions.

James Haluch, Managing Director at Amey Highways and chair of the vehicle incursions working group says,

“In 2019, in Amey alone we recorded 753 actual vehicle incursions into our road closures. Worse still, we have an actual collision with a traffic management vehicle every 4 or so months. Each one of these results in injuries to our people and it is generally the case that the physical injuries heal far quicker than the mental health ones.

I would not ask my kids to drive an Impact Protection Vehicle so I do struggle asking my colleagues to. Hence this unprecedented collaboration by the Highways sector in raising awareness is so critical in helping to eliminate the risk to the people that maintain our road network to keep the country connected. A few moments lapse of concentration could be life changing.”

Speaking about the release, Safer Highways Development Director, Adrian Tatum said,

”Our Stamp it Out campaign originated from a collective supply chain desire to end roadworker abuse and make it socially unacceptable to commit such acts.

”It is encouraging to see the client on the strategic road network in Highways England throwing their weight behind such an important issue and we, as an industry collective, welcome any conversations they may wish to have; our door is always open.

”Our aim is to truly make a difference and end the abhorrent abuse of those we put to work and to see Highways England truly showing leadership is a breath of fresh air.”

Over the next 12 months Safer Highways and our partners aim to change the landscape around roadworker abuse - for more details visit www.stamp it

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