EVIDENCE grows across Essex of the increasing abuse that road workers are facing from drivers and members of the public. Almost daily, incidents are recorded by Essex Highways staff, not only of threats and abuse, but of impatient drivers ignoring temporary traffic lights and cones, and driving through active roadworks at speed, putting workers in danger.
Last year, Highways England, who run the motorways and the A12 and A120 in Essex, reported 300 incidents of abuse per week and 3,500 “incursions” – vehicles breaking the law and endangering staff by driving through roadworks. There were 150 serious incidents, with four workers injured.
Deputy Leader of Essex County Council, Kevin Bentley and cabinet member for Infrastructure said: “It is very important that those who work on our roads feel both safe and respected. They do a valuable job both building and maintaining our transport network to ensure we can all get from A to B. They certainly do not deserve to be subjected to threatening behaviour from members of the public – instances of which continue to happen. This is why I am supporting the introduction of CCTV, body-worn video cameras to ensure that anyone abusing our colleagues for simply doing their job will be prosecuted.
“If you witness any of our road workers being subjected to threatening behaviour, please report it to Essex Police on 101. If you have dashcam or mobile phone film, you can also pass a copy of it on to the police through the Extra Eyes website.”
Essex County Council and Essex Highways are asking members of the public to:
• Respect our road workers – slow down near road works and obey speed limits and signs.
• Remember that just because workers aren’t visible, it doesn’t mean they are not present. This is especially true when operations take place at night, but also applies when visibility is restricted by works vehicles and equipment.
• Consider that we plan maintenance and improvement projects to allow works to proceed in the safest and most cost-effective way, with minimum disruption to road users: cones, barriers and lights are there for a good reason.
• Think what it would be like if you had to contend with lorries and cars driving through your place of work.
• Remember that every worker on the road is a Dad, husband, son or mother, wife, daughter. Would they want their loved one injured, threatened, abused or living in fear of people driving aggressively through roadworks?
Incidents in the last few months in Essex have included:
• Driver weaving in and out of the cones on a lane closure before driving off at high speed (Basildon)
• Driver and passenger pulled up alongside our truck and swore at our driver. Motorist then drove off hitting and damaging cones and beacons. (Laindon)
• Silver Mercedes A Class stopped two cars back from “when red light shows wait here” sign – suddenly pulled out, overtook the two waiting cars in front & and drove through red light. Staff called out to driver, but were ignored. Luckily no other cars coming the other way or collision likely. (Abridge)
• Passengers moved cones and barriers to drive through closed road, despite shouts from staff. Drove close to staff, swearing at they did so. (Colchester).
• Inspections van driving in Gt Oakley was aggressively tailgated by blue Ford which then overtook on a 30mph blind bend.
• Member of public pulled up in Silver VW transporter while our inspector working and swore and threatened the inspector for around 5 minutes while standing in the road. Inspector asked him to stop, but he continued. (North Fambridge)
• Resident and his wife left their property to verbally abuse workers near their property. They were apoplectic with rage. Staff failed to get them to listen, they were beyond reason. (Chelmsford)
• During a site meeting with utilities contractors inside the roadworks, a car drove through the cones at high speed. (Mundon)
• Driver stopped to swear at and threaten workers, saying they shouldn’t have started there yet. Crew managed to get him to calm down. (Lawford)
• Man entering site in aggressive manner pushed RJ staff member. (Great Waltham)
• A woman in a black Ford KA drove round a van waiting at the red signal of our three way lights and then drove through the site, the van driver sounded his horn to warn our workforce of the car coming through. (Chelmsford)
• DPD delivery driver drove on to the pavement to get around cones, signs and barriers to get though our road closure instead of following the diversion signs. (Audley End).
• Gritter driver sworn at after asking resident to park closer to the kerb so gritter could get through. (Braintree)
• As myself and the foreman crossed the road at the temporary traffic lights woman driver in the queue at red light pulled out and sped through the junction right in front of us missing us by only a couple of feet. (Thorpe Le Soken)
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