HW Martin (Traffic Management) Ltd is delighted to announce it is a Corporate Donor for Brake, the road safety charity.
The company is using Road Safety Week, which runs from 14-20 November 2022 to help spread the message of safe roads for all.
Its 500-strong workforce operate almost exclusively on the highway network where they face risks to their safety every day, but not from the hazards you might expect.
The three main threats to safety
The three main threats to safety are incursions, Impact Protection Vehicle strikes and roadworker abuse.
Over 300 incursions are reported per month; this is defined in Raising the Bar 27 as: An intentional or unintentional unauthorized entry into temporary traffic management by members of the public or emergency services. Road workers are at the top of the hierarchy of road users in this scenario – those at most risk in the event of an accident – and the potential for injuries or fatalities following an incursion are high.
Then, there are on average four Impact Protection Vehicle (IPV) strikes every month. This is where another road user collides with the 7.5 tonne blocking vehicles used to provide protection for traffic management 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 earlier this year highlighted how all motorists are accountable for driving responsibly to protect non-motorized 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 – on 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.
“Since we’ve been using digital technology on our closures, it’s improved the aggressive behaviour massively. Being able to tell someone they’re 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. But you’ve got to be careful with how you approach that sort of thing, I don’t condone the behaviour, but sometimes people are in a bad way. You’ve got to be professional about it, it’s wrong, but they’re still human and at the end of the day you’ve got to treat people with as much respect as you’d want to be treated with.”
Sinead hopes her experiences will help people think about how they can use roads more safely to protect non-motorised road users.
Laura Challis, Corporate Fundraising Manager at Brake, said:
“Every day, 65 people are killed or seriously injured on the UK’s roads. HW Martin (Traffic Management) Ltd’s kind donation will help enable us to continue our work to make streets and communities safer for everyone, as well as support people bereaved and seriously injured on roads. Thank you HW Martin (Traffic Management) Ltd for your support.”
The company’s donation to Brake will help pay for a road victim to receive support from a National Road Victim Service case worker, at least 20 support packs for bereaved families helping them cope with their feelings and understand procedures such as court cases and 3 primary schools receiving a Kids Walk action pack, full of information and activities to teach road safety basics to children
The traffic management expert will also be sharing further stories from its operational staff over the next few weeks to help spread the message of safe roads for all.
Andy Graham, Operations Director, at HW Martin (Traffic Management) Ltd, said:
“Becoming a Corporate Donor with Brake was high on our list of priorities this year. We wanted 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 work with our industry partners to educate road users, keeping them informed with as much advance warning as possible, and encourage them to slow down and think when driving through roadworks. We can continue to design roadworks that limit, or at least reduce the likelihood of incursions, including deterrents and safety measures, where practicable and keep educating our people around occupational road risk. There’s also opportunity to do more to change the public’s perception of our highway workers; they are only human, and we hope the stories we share over the coming weeks 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 the industry to build a more accurate picture of how often this is happening so that we can make decisions on how to eliminate it, or at thew very least reduce the likelihood of it happening, most effectively.
“It is important to stress that although the frequency of these occurrences is alarming, not every interaction with the public is negative, in fact many are positive. Whilst we do not condone this behaviour, our intention is not to vilify anyone but to raise awareness about what can happen to ensure all road users are more mindful of the impact of the decisions they make on the highway network.”