Senior figures from National Highways are urging drivers to respect those working on the road.

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.

Fatal frustrations

The doubling of incidents is highly likely to result in fatalities.

Karl Brooks from National Highways says: “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.

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

Brooks added that workers are prepared for risks attached to this type of work, However, the increasingly dangerous actions of some drivers is another level of risk.  “People blatantly ignoring closed off sections of road, is completely unacceptable.”

Motoring madness

Earlier this year, dashcam footage of a woman moving cones so she could drive across a central area of the carriageway. The incident on the A12 in Essex went viral on social media.

The driver of the car wasn’t prepared to wait after a vehicle had been in a collision further up the road. The road was very busy, yet the driver blatantly ignored any safety concerns putting herself, road workers and other road users at risk.

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.

Education, education, education

National Highways is campaigning to educate road users around the dangers of not following instructions around roadworks.

“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,” says Brooks.

“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.”