National Highways pioneering trial to treat carriageway spillages enters next phase of project


08 Sep 2022

A pioneering trial to treat spillages on England’s major A-roads and motorways is entering the next phase after a range of products were put through their paces.

Forensic evidence such as tyre marks and debris - usually found on the road following a major incident – were placed on the 200-metre trial area at Santa Pod Raceway, alongside diesel and oil samples, where specialists tested fluid-based treatments to see if they could absorb the spillages without destroying the evidence at the same location. 

Results from the forensic examinations will now be analysed to shape the next steps.

When a major incident happens, essential police investigations involving detailed forensic work are often required. 

While this forensic work takes place, access for National Highways teams to treat any spillages like oil and diesel is restricted.

Yet it can take just 90 minutes for fluids such as these to damage the road surface. 

And if the surface cannot be treated in time, it means resurfacing work is required, adding to further congestion and delays for motorists caught up in the aftermath of the incident. 

National Highways On-Road Service Delivery Manager, Sian Norman said: “The forensic testing process was very valuable, and we were able to test a range of products to see how they performed in a real-world scenario.

“Whenever there is a serious incident on the network, we know that police investigation work is vitally important, but we must manage that aspect against getting traffic moving again and alleviating congestion. The results of the tests will now be analysed over the coming weeks and will help to shape the next steps.”

The testing process taking place at Santa Pod Raceway in Northampton.

National Highways joined forces with the Forensic Collision Investigation Network (FCIN) and Kier Highways for the special trial, involving significant research and development, and adopting ground-breaking innovation.

The trial, worth more than £270,000, is funded from the National Highways Innovations Designated Funds programme and incorporates techniques in a ‘real-world’ testing environment.

National Highways Designated Funds programme is divided into four funding streams aimed at making the biggest difference and delivering lasting benefits; environment and wellbeing, users and community, safety and congestion and innovation and modernisation.  

Other achievements include 124 biodiversity initiatives, 150 safety improvements on single carriageway roads to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured and over 6,500 lights and traffic signals converted to LED.  

Find out more about Designated Funds initiatives.