“Someone is going to be killed.”
13 Jul 2023
National Highways stark warning as number of road users driving through closed off roadworks in the east of the country set to double.
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Senior figures from National Highways are urging drivers to respect those working on the road after new figures for the east of the country show that road incursions – that’s when a vehicle drives through a closed off section of road – are set to double this year.
In the first five months of 2023, 123 roadwork incursions have taken place. Last year the total figure across 12 months was 122.
Karl Brooks – National Highways’ Programme Delivery Manager in the East Region – said: “The unpalatable truth is that if this continues someone is going to be killed. Working on the strategic road network is an inherently dangerous place at the best of times, but when road users ignore barriers, signs or cones, they are entering someone else’s workspace with a vehicle, often travelling at high speed.
Caption: The driver of this car had to be cut from his vehicle after he entered a closed roadwork area and collided with a contractor's truck. He was subsequently prosecuted for driving without due and attention, given 3 penalty points and £100 fine.
“Those working to maintain and improve our roads – often overnight and through all weathers - accept a certain risk associated with that type of work but what we are experiencing at present, with people blatantly ignoring closed off sections of road, is completely unacceptable.”
Earlier this year, dashcam footage of a woman moving cones so she could drive across a central area of the carriageway that was being improved on the A12 in Essex went viral on social media. In the footage you can see National Highways contractor Adam Craig speak to the driver.
Talking about the incident as part of a National Highways campaign to educate road users around the dangers of not following instructions around roadworks, Andrew described what took place.
Caption: The driver of this car wasn't prepared to wait after a vehicle had been in a collision further up the road. She was subsequently identifed and issued with a conditional cuation and a £100 fine.
“There had been a collision further up the A12 – which was the reason for the congestion. I was driving towards the incident to help when I came across the lady moving cones and trying to get her car in a more free-flowing lane. Stopping my vehicle to deal with it delayed me getting to the collision and helping those affected. It also put me in an incredibly dangerous situation, which was completely avoidable.
“You can see from the footage how busy that section of road was, and the actions of the lady was understandably drawing the attention of other motorists who were driving yards away from where we were both stood. Just one distracted driver could have easily led to a fatal accident,” added Andrew.
Following the incident, a 66-year-old woman from south London was issued with a conditional caution. She was also fined £100, with the money going to a road worker safety charity.
Moving cones and driving through a marked off area is an offence and a breach of the Highway Code.
“We understand that nobody likes being stuck in a car and queueing through roadworks, so we plan very carefully and, where possible, carry out work overnight and at weekends when roads are at their quietest. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible and traffic management measures like cones and signs are there for the safety of the public and those working to improve the road network,” said Karl.
“We do everything we can to highlight roadworks – and alongside our contractors – we train those working on the road network to recognise potentially dangerous situations and take every precaution they can to minimise that risk. We are now urging drivers to do the same; if you’re driving through a section of roadworks please take extra care, follow the signs, and think about the people working there to make the road you’re travelling on better.
“Safety is an absolute priority for National Highways; we want everyone to get home safe and well, and that goes for our workers too.”