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28 September 2013, 04:00
Drivers in Southampton are being urged to take more care around roadworks - before a serious accident happens.
The City Council and its highways partner Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP) says in recent weeks the city has seen a sharp rise in the number of ‘near miss’ incidents recorded at roadworks sites across the city as a result of some drivers ignoring diversions, no entry signs and other safety measures that are there to protect the public and workers.
Earlier this year 57 near misses were recorded by our highways crews working at Bellevue Road in the city centre, while a further 10 incidents were recorded at Coxford Road works in Maybush in just the first week of starting work. Incidents continued even after three no-entry signs were put up. As a result Balfour Beatty have had to close the road completely rather than risk a serious accident.
In one incident just weeks ago, a motorist by-passed barriers at High Road and drove across the site passing between machinery that had just laid fresh tarmac and the roller that was following behind. Workers had no time to react as the car sped away mounting the kerb to exit the site. This was an extreme example but is part of a worrying increase of incidents where drivers are ignoring signs and barriers.
On top of this, road workers are increasingly being subjected to verbal abuse and the sounding of car horns as they go about their business of improving the city’s roads.
Councillor Jacqui Rayment, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, said:
“I have visited a number of sites recently and have been horrified to witness not just careless driving but, frankly, dangerous conduct around road works and temporary traffic management.
“We have many members of staff who work on the roads, including those carrying out essential repairs and school crossing patrols. They work tirelessly to make our journeys easier and protect our children, and are sometimes subjected to abuse. This is unacceptable.
“We are asking that all road users are patient and drive carefully through road works and other areas of the network where our staff are working, bearing in mind the valuable job these people do for the city.”
Andy Hamilton from Balfour Beatty, said:
"It can be anything from vehicles driving too fast or erratically, or coming through road closures, which put our workforce at risk and also put motorists at risk.
"People obviously don't like roadworks and we accept that. But equally, it's not acceptable for our staff to be verbally abused when they're just doing the jobs they're paid to do.
"If motorists continue to not comply with signs, that may well adjust the way we carry out these works and may well increase the number of road closures."