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?