HW Martin (Traffic Management) Ltd is delighted to announce it is a Supporter for Brake, the road safety charity, for the second year running.
The company is using this as a platform to help spread the message of safe roads for all.
Its 500-strong workforce operates almost exclusively on the highway network where they face risks to their safety every day, but not from the hazards you might expect.
In a short video, three of those employees who deliver services on the strategic road network share details about their experiences of one such hazard, an incursion, to raise awareness of greater road safety for all.
Over 300 incursions are reported per month; this is defined as an intentional or unintentional unauthorised entry into temporary traffic management by public or emergency services members. Road workers are vulnerable road users, and the potential for injuries or fatalities following an incursion is high.
But this isn’t the only hazard. There are on average four Impact Protection Vehicle (IPV) strikes every month. This is where another road user collides with the 7.5 tonne vehicles used as block by traffic management crews to provide protection for operatives working in the road. Whilst these vehicles are specially designed to absorb an impact, the risk of injury and damage to property remains high.
Changes to the Highway Code last year highlighted how all motorists are accountable for driving responsibly to protect vulnerable road users, whether they are pedestrians or road workers.
Finally, as it is a customer-facing role, highway workers are typically subjected to a barrage of abuse on a weekly if not daily basis. This ranges from verbal insults and threats to physical assault – o n rare occasions even physical assault with a weapon.
Between September 2019 and October 2020 over 330 incidents of roadworker abuse was reported, that’s almost one per day. Many hundreds more go unreported as it is seen as the norm and as a result tolerated far more than it should be.
Sinead Ryan, 12A/B Traffic Management Operative, is one of many HW Martin (Traffic Management) Ltd’s employees who has been subjected to abuse whilst on shift. She explains:
“I’ve experienced quite a few incidents of abuse. Our job inconveniences people and some believe that it entitles them to treat us in an aggressive way. I’ve had people throw things at me, slam their hands on the bonnet of my truck and shout abuse at me. On one occasion someone even brandished a gun and the police had to be called. I would never dream of going into someone else’s workplace and screaming in their face, so why is it acceptable in my workplace?”
Since the introduction of digital technology on road closure points, such as the Intellicone® from Highways Resource Solutions, CCTV and collision warning systems fitted to IPVs, road workers like Sinead feel safer when it comes to incursions and abuse. She continues:
“Since we’ve been using digital technology on our closures, it’s improved the aggressive behaviour massively. Being able to tell someone their being recorded on camera, or the cones and lamps are alarmed diffuses a situation more effectively than anything else. It does give you more security.
“I love putting closures on, I love being on the back of the IPV, I just really enjoy what I do. And some members of the public couldn’t do enough for you, bringing you coffees and things which is great. But all it needs is that one person to take your shift from being good and safe, to being your worst nightmare. Unfortunately, it’s the unpredictability of the public that has become the danger, because it’s so hard to plan for.”
Sinead hopes her experiences will help people think about how they can use roads more safely to protect vulnerable road users.
Andy Graham, Operations Director, at HW Martin (Traffic Management) Ltd, said:
“Renewing our Brake Supporter status with Brake was high on our list of priorities this year. We wanted to continue to demonstrate our alliance with the charity and the work they do campaigning for safe and healthy mobility for everyone who uses the country’s road network.
“We want everyone who uses the roads to go home safe, healthy, and happy every day. Our people are affected by road safety every shift and they each have a right to work safely on safe roads. Whether that’s safety from other road users entering roadworks without authorization putting lives in danger, or safety from abuse, nobody should ever feel threatened, intimidated, or assaulted because of the job they do, and yet this scenario is faced by thousands of people every day on our roads. Abuse and endangerment of healthcare professionals, police officers and other key workers is not tolerated, our road workers should not have to tolerate it either.
“We don’t have all the answers, but what we can do is educate road users everywhere and encourage them to slow down and think when driving through roadworks. More can also be done to change the public’s perception of our highway workers; they are only human, and we hope the stories we share here will help to demonstrate that.
“To our fellow industry colleagues, we urge you to make use of the tools that are out there and report incursions and abuse. This will help us to build a more accurate picture of how often this is happening so that we can make decisions on how to eliminate it most effectively.”
The company’s support could help a bereaved family through the charity’s National Road Victim Service following a fatal or serious incident on the road network.
You can watch the video here (please note that viewer discretion is advised):