MOTORISTS are being urged to slow down to keep roadworkers carrying out vital repairs to the highway safe.
Engineers have spoken about their near-misses and close shaves due to careless driving during their time working on the region’s motorway network, as part of a national campaign organised by the Highways Agency.
Workers travelled to the Highways Agency depot near Westhoughton, which monitors and maintains the motorways and trunk roads in the Wigan area, to highlight the risks posed by motorists who ignore traffic management, temporary speed restrictions and diversions put in place during repairs and incidents.
The agency said it had experienced particular problems on the M6 at the Orrell junction, with too many examples of motorists ignoring roadworks restrictions and even removing cones to avoid diversion routes, risking collisions with roadworkers or heavy plant in the carriageway.
One North West engineer told how he was struck by a van while controlling traffic on a section of the M6 in Lancashire which was closed briefly as operatives worked to clear flooding and carry out an emergency repair to a a pothole.
While carrying out traffic control he saw and stopped a van in the hard shoulder trying to get past, but after speaking to the driver and heading back to his patrol car he was hit and thrown onto the bonnet and hard shoulder.
Other near-misses recalled by road workers included incidents of vehicles driving through cones, with two operators having to leap for their lives after a lorry failed to spot the lane closures and drove into the works.
The Highways Agency sought to remind drivers of the need to take note of emergency signs, such as temporary speed restrictions, red warning Xs and notices of upcoming lane closures, and warned that drivers caught flouting restrictions on the roads would be prosecuted.
Agency regional director Matt Sweeting said: “Drivers removing cones and driving into roadworks cannot possibly know what they are heading into, whether that is a deep excavation, heavy plant or a team of road workers.
“Our road workers have a right to do their jobs in a safe environment. Drivers moving cones and driving into road works will be reported to the police.
“Drivers need to ask themselves if avoiding a diversion is worth risking a fine, the loss of their licence, or a serious accident.”