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Near misses escalate for highway contractors

Motorist drives through roadworks on the A47 near Wisbech

Last year there were 122 roadwork incursions by motorists across the east of the country. So far this year there have been 220 incidents.

To highlight the issue, National Highways and maintenance contractor Ringway have released footage of a motorist smashing through a barrier on a closed-off section of carriageway and sending road workers running for cover.

The footage shows a silver BMW breaking through a temporary and illuminated barrier as contractors are forced to jump out of the way as the driver ignores warnings to stop.

 The incident occurred during the evening of 24th May this year as overnight resurfacing works took place on the A47 near Wisbech in Cambridgeshire. The road was closed at the time to all traffic apart from construction vehicles and machinery.

Following the incident, a 29-year-old man from March in Cambridgeshire was subject of a police investigation and reported for a number of offences. He subsequently pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention, failing to stop at the scene of an accident as well as failure to report an accident. Last month, at Peterborough Magistrates Court, the driver was banned from driving for four months and issued with a fine and costs that amounted to £788.

Heather Openshaw, National Highways’ head of service delivery in the east region, said: “There can be no excuse for this type of incident, and we are lucky no one was seriously injured or killed. As we know from the latest figures, we are seeing a disturbing and sharp rise with this form of reckless and ignorant driving, and we will continue to do all we can to raise awareness of the issue.

“We, alongside the relevant authorities, will continue to pursue enforcement action against those whose behaviour behind the wheel endangers the lives of those working to improve our roads.

“Working on the strategic road network is a very challenging environment at the best of times, but when road users ignore barriers, signs or cones, they are effectively entering someone else’s workspace with a vehicle, often travelling at high speed and this is completely unacceptable.”

Ringway divisional manager Mike Thompson said: “As an industry it has been necessary to adapt our traffic management with incursion warnings and CCTV systems to enhance the level of protection for our teams. The majority of motorists that pass roadworks do so in a safe manner and it remains a small section that feel it’s OK to ignore our signs that has led us to increase the levels of protection.

“While it remains disappointing to see these incursions continue to occur, we welcome the action taken against this driver, who endangered the safety of those working on our behalf. Hopefully this serves as a timely reminder of the effort taking place across the industry and the criminal justice system to stamp out this type of irresponsible driving.”

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