Incidents of civil engineering contractors enduring abuse from the public while working on the roads has increased by 10%, according to Highways England.
Despite there being less traffic on the road, there has also been a rise in incidents of vehicle incursions into coned or fenced off roadworks areas.
Highways England wants every incident and near-miss to be reported. “This data is vital in order to inform traffic management through roadworks and to ensure any behavioural hotspots are targeted,” it said.
Highways England said that there were nearly 6,500 incidents of incursions between October 2017 and October 2020 – an average of 175 a month. And that is just on motorways and trunk roads, not the local authority network.
There were around 330 incidents of abuse reported from Sept 2019 to October 2020, an average of nearly one a day. There has been a 10% increase in reported abuse incidents in the first nine months of 2020 compared to the first nine months of 2019, Highways England said.
Mark Byard, director of health & 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 led a cross-industry project to raise awareness of road worker safety, collaborating with contractors such as Amey, Balfour Beatty and Skanska, producing a series of short public awareness and training films.
James Haluch, managing director of Amey Highways and chair of the vehicle incursions working group, said: “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 four 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.”