Press release

Road worker dangers highlighted in Greater Manchester

People working on Greater Manchester’s smart motorway scheme are urging motorists to think about their safety and stick to the speed limit when they drive along the M60 and M62.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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The dangers facing road workers are being highlighted as part of a national initiative aimed at reducing the number of workers who are killed or seriously injured on England’s motorways and major A roads.

Last year saw the highest number of serious injuries among incident response teams for six years, with ten road workers suffering major injuries across England. Overall, eight workers died and 317 were injured while working on or near motorways and major A roads in the five years between 2009 and 2013.

At its peak, up to 200 people will be working on the £208 million smart motorway scheme in Greater Manchester at any one time. The project began in July and will cut congestion and improve journey times on a 17-mile stretch of the network between junction 8 of the M60 near Sale and junction 20 of the M62 near Rochdale.

The latest technology is being installed to monitor traffic levels, provide traffic information to road users, and ease congestion by using variable speed limits on overhead message signs. The hard shoulder is also being permanently converted into an extra lane on a five-mile stretch of the M62 between junctions 18 and 20.

A temporary 50mph speed limit has been introduced while the work is being carried out, for the safety of both road workers and drivers.

Roads Minister John Hayes said:

The safety of those who work around the clock to carry out vital improvements and keep drivers moving after incidents is absolutely paramount.

It is not worth putting road workers’ lives at risk, let alone the tragic impact on their lives and those of their families, simply to shave a few seconds off your journey.

The Highways Agency’s advice for driving safely at roadworks is simple - to:

  • keep within the speed limit – it is there for your safety
  • get into the correct lane in good time – don’t keep switching
  • concentrate on the road ahead, not the roadworks
  • be alert for works traffic leaving or entering roadworks
  • keep a safe distance – there could be queues in front
  • observe all signs – they are there to help you

Footage has also been released to highlight the issue which shows:

  • a lorry almost crashing into a Highways Agency Traffic Officer vehicle which was attending a breakdown on the M6 near Birmingham. This was despite a red ‘X’ being displayed on the overhead gantry to show the lane was closed
  • a lorry continuing in a lane where a red ‘X’ has been displayed on an overhead gantry and then crashing through the traffic cones protecting a maintenance crew

  • a lorry almost crashing into a Highways Agency Traffic Officer vehicle which was attending a breakdown on the M6 near Birmingham. This was despite a red ‘X’ being displayed on the overhead gantry to show the lane was closed
  • a lorry continuing in a lane where a red ‘X’ has been displayed on an overhead gantry and then crashing through the traffic cones protecting a maintenance crew

The importance of safety on England’s motorways and major A roads is being put centre stage during the broadcast of the documentary series ‘The Motorway: Life in the Fast Lane’ on BBC2 this month. This four part documentary series, part two of which airs on Tuesday 16 September at 9pm, will illustrate what life is like for those that work, travel and live near motorways.

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000.

Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways Agency press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.

Published 12 September 2014