The UK has the busiest roads in Europe and they are under intense pressure every day. With some very busy stretches of road subject to roadworks and contraflow systems, there are some understandable concerns about road safety.
UK roads suffer a lot of wear and tear so it’s no surprise that many parts of our motorway network are undergoing maintenance at any given time. Accidents, unfortunately, happen on roadworks all too often, prompting local politicians to call for action to be taken to improve driver safety.
One stretch of motorway that has seen a number of collisions within roadworks is the M1 between junctions 15 and 19, where work is ongoing to replace the central reservation barrier. Last week, a multi-vehicle collision in this area caused two lanes to close and local sources say similar collisions are happening a couple of times a week.
In December last year, the roadworks were the scene of a heart-breaking fatal accident. A driver broke down on the inside lane of the roadworks and was stationary for 15 minutes before a lorry crashed into his car. This prompted Northampton North MP Michael Ellis to raise concerns with the Highways Agency about the number of road traffic accidents happening within the roadworks.
More than 100 accidents happened on the M1 roadworks between August 2014 and January 2015, prompting Mr Ellis to request an urgent safety review on what is one of the most congested stretches of road in the UK. Highways Agency statistics revealed that 94 collisions happened between junction 19 and 16 since roadworks commenced in August 2014.
Mr Ellis believes many accidents are caused by drivers navigating through very narrow lanes. In calling for the Highways Agency to redesign the roadworks Mr Ellis said, “There have now been a very large number of serious collisions. It’s the narrowness that concerns me. They have sought to reassure me that these are safe roadworks, but I am not convinced.”
In addition to the collisions, 283 cars broke down within the roadworks since the work started in August. That’s 283 cars that were at risk of a serious or fatal accident as they had no hard shoulder on which to wait safely for the breakdown services to arrive and recover them.
The continued risk of serious collisions on one of our busiest roads is unacceptable. Road works should be areas where drivers feel that bit safer due to speed and lane restrictions but the recent fatal accident and the sheer number of collisions happening regularly on the M1 point to a need for road work design to be examined carefully and revised as necessary to reduce the risk to drivers.
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