Early 2012 news
‘Bear’, a 10 month old St Bernard puppy, escaped from his owner’s car after it was involved in a collision on the M25 near Clacket Lane services on the Surrey / Kent border.
The incident damaged the vehicle’s rear door, allowing the startled pooch to run out of the car, across the motorway and into the road verge. It looked as though he had disappeared into a neighbouring field and reluctantly the dog’s owner, Nathan Hargett, had to abandon the search after no sign of Bear could be found.
The following morning though, Bear was spotted next to the hard shoulder by a driver on the M25, and Highways Agency traffic officers Russell Bagshaw and Donald Corby were deployed to rescue him.
Traffic officer Russell Bagshaw said: “The driver who spotted Bear reported seeing a ‘small horse’, so we were surprised when we found a dog at the side of the road instead. St Bernard’s have a reputation for rescuing people, so it was nice to be able to return the favour! He was not hurt, but was scared and disorientated, and not very pleased to see us! Even at 10 months, St Bernard’s are big dogs, so it was a real two man job to keep him under control and safe until Mr Hargett arrived to pick him up. The moment he saw his owner, Bear perked straight up, and it is great to know he is now safely at home.”
Bear’s owner, Nathan Hargett, who lives in Southampton, said: “I was in shock from the accident, and didn’t realise at first that the collision had caused the locked back door to come open. I ran after Bear on the road verge for ages, but all of a sudden he just wasn’t there any more. It was heartbreaking having to leave him behind. He is afraid of the dark, so a night outside in a strange place will have been a rough experience for him. We thought he must have run into a farmer’s field that was nearby. I feared the worst though, and I was so relieved to get the call this morning telling me he was okay. It is fantastic to have him home, and I am very grateful to the officers who helped keep my dog safe.”
Highways Agency operations manager Graham Russell said: “I am delighted that this story had a happy ending. Given the circumstances of the incident, I don’t think that Bear’s escape could have been avoided, but this is a timely reminder that animals can easily be spooked by a busy road and can behave unpredictably, putting themselves and others in danger. Our advice to anyone who has to use the hard shoulder of a motorway is to get themselves and their passengers safely out of the car – and preferably behind a barrier – but to leave all animals securely shut in the vehicle.”
Gypsy jailed for £14,000 metal theft
By Court Reporter Coventry Observer 30/07/12
A CONVICTED thief who was involved in the theft of more than £14,000 worth of copper cable from a Highways Agency depot has been jailed for eight months.
Romanian gypsy Tudorel Irimia, 37, of Mullien Street, Coventry, was one of four men who broke into the depot by cutting through a steel fencing pole.
They stole a quantity of specialist copper power cable worth £14,500 which they loaded into a van, Warwick Crown Court was told.
The first the police knew about it was when they were contacted by a suspicious member of the public.
Although officers who searched the area found the van with the cable still inside on the car park of the nearby Holiday Inn, there was no sign of the offenders.
But on November 2 four Romany gypsies, including Irimia, went to Leamington police station with a woman who claimed the vehicle was hers and asked for it to be returned.
As a result Irimia and the woman were arrested, and when he was questioned he denied stealing the cable from the Longbridge depot.
He claimed he and the others had been doing some work in London, and he had driven them there to collect some cabling in payment for the work they had carried out.
Irimia had to defend himself through an interpreter after the court heard he had not provided information needed to be granted legal aid.
He pleaded guilty, but told the judge: "I did not tell the truth to the police because I was threatened by those other four people, but those people are now in Germany.
"We entered the premises and we stole the cable. It was put into the van and I drove.”
Jailing him, Judge Marten Coates said: "Metal theft is rife in this country at the moment. It seems to be a criminal enterprise popular with people from eastern Europe."
Dartford Crossing IT could cost £42.3m
Highways Agency to seek supplier of electronic charging services for Dartford Crossing
Gill Hitchcock Guardian Professional, Tuesday 3 January 2012
The Highways Agency is planning a contract for an IT system to support charging services for vehicles using the Dartford Crossing, tunnels and a bridge across the river Thames.
To be known as the Dartford Free Flow Charging (DFFC) scheme, the project is expected to cost £42.3m, according to a pre-tender notice in the Official Journal of the European Union.
The current operation at the Dartford Crossing involves toll booth services, but as part of the new scheme electronic road user charging will be introduced.
"There is currently an old fashioned toll system and drivers pay the charge to a person in a booth," a spokesman for the agency told GGC.
"Free flow charging is to help traffic flowing through the crossing and ensure the safety aspects of the crossing, such as stopping abnormal loads."
The notice says the contractor will implement vehicle detection solutions, which will be used as the basis to enforce the scheme and make charges.
The supplier will be expected to design, test and introduce a scalable IT system, including custom and commercial off-the-shelf software and the provision of the physical infrastructure to support the DFFC service.
Back office processes will include processing payments and discounts, enquiry and complaint handling, account registration and management, and the management of tags.
Channels for customers to pay, register and make enquiries could include the internet, a contact centre and text messaging.
An enforcement operations service will include the issue of all penalty charge notices and the management and processing of all enforcement related queries, representations, appeals and debt recovery.
According to the notice, the Highways Agency could
A ‘concrete cancer’ that has shut one of London’s most vital flyovers
also threatens other major road links across Britain, the Highways Agency has said.
The half-mile long Hammersmith flyover, which carries M3, M4 and Heathrow traffic, was shut just before Christmas when steel reinforcement cables were found to be rusting quickly.
Rusting metal can expand to five times its normal size and burst surrounding concrete.
Neil Sears Last updated at 3:19 AM on 9th January 2012
Engineers insist the flyover will be repaired for the Olympics. Yet the Highways Agency admits other major road structures face similar problems, leaving a repair bill of tens of millions of pounds.
All are built of reinforced concrete, but have been weakened after the steel supports within the structures have rusted
The culprit is salty water – from the annual salting of roads to prevent ice forming – seeping inside.
Other flyovers and junctions affected include the Ray Hall viaduct linking the M5 and M6 near Walsall, the M5’s Tewkesbury Road underbridge in Gloucestershire, and Newcastle’s Middle Engine Lane bridge
Spaghetti Junction near Birmingham needed a £2.7millon concrete support in August.
Cambridge University expert Chris Burgoyne said: ‘When they were built, durability was not seen as critical. Waterproofing was not done as carefully as it might have been. We are paying the penalty.’
The agency inspects each of its 18,500 road structures once every two years, with more detailed inspections every six years.
A spokesman said: ‘With robust inspection and maintenance regimes in place, it (corrosion) has
Two heroic Highways Agency road maintenance workers have been praised
by Northamptonshire Police for rescuing a motorist from a burning car on the A45.
Construction Index 12 Jan 2012
Richie Stripp and Tony Austin, who work for Highways Agency contractor AOne+ maintaining motorways and major trunk roads in the East Midlands, were returning from repair job on 29 November when they came across the accident near Wootton Junction.
Mr Stripp said: “There were several members of the public already on scene and clearly panicking about what to do. When we arrived in our maintenance vehicle and high-viz clothing, all eyes turned to us for assistance.”
Before they knew what was happening the car set on fire, with the dazed driver still trapped inside.
Mr Stripp continued: “Neither of us gave it a second thought; we just knew instinctively that we had to get the driver out and move the onlookers away from the incident in case the vehicle exploded.”
Mr Austin added: “Once we had got the driver safely out of the car, we also closed the slip road using the cones aboard our vehicle to stop other motorists coming to harm and also to allow the emergency services to get immediate access to the scene once they arrived.”
The driver concerned, who wishes to remain anonymous, has expressed his sincere gratitude to both men.
6 January 2012 BBC NEWS
M62 speed cameras record 1,000% rise in offences
The Highways Agency said drivers put themselves and others at risk by ignoring speed limits Continue reading the main story
The number of drivers caught by speed cameras on part of a motorway in West Yorkshire rose by more than 1,000% in 2011, figures from the West Yorkshire Casualty Reduction Partnership reveal.
About 11,000 drivers were caught by average speed cameras at major roadworks on the M62 in 2011, compared with just 1,000 in the previous year.
Roger Wantling from the Highways Agency said the rise was worrying.
He said speeding motorists were putting themselves and other at risk.
The cameras measure speed between two points to make sure drivers are not breaking the average speed limit.
They are often set up at major roadworks where temporary speed limits are in place.
Mr Wantling said he could not explain the dramatic rise in the number of drivers ignoring the 50mph speed limit on the M62.
"The number does concern us. These cameras are purely for safety," he said.
"From the Highways Agency's point of view, we do not reduce speed limits unless we have to."
Andrew Howard, head of road safety for the Automobile Association, said it was "very, very surprising" that so many drivers had flouted the law.
"The problem may be that people either get blase about them when they have been there for a long time if they feel they aren't catching people.
"Or, of course, there may be something that means people just don't think they are there at all," he said
'Rethink needed' on road lighting switch off
4 January 2012 Aviva News
A petition is calling on the Highways Agency to revise its policy of switching off the lights at night on stretches of some of Britain's busiest motorways.
A poll of 2,000 motorists by Confused.com found that 47 per cent feel less confident when driving at night.
The comparison website is urging the agency to re-consider the 'Midnight Switch Off'.
Since 2010 the lights have been switched off every day between midnight and 05:00 on parts of the M1, M2, M4, M5, M6, M27 and M54 – some of the busiest roads connecting our major cities.
According to Confused.com, 67 per cent of motorists "strongly oppose" the switch off.
The Highways Agency says safety remains its highest priority and says that after one year of operation of the switch-off safety has not been compromised.
Reported accidents are below numbers previously experienced at the stretches of motorway, it says.
It supports the government's climate change efforts and claims each section of motorway where the switch off is enforced makes savings of over 30 per cent in carbon emissions and electricity consumption.
These schemes are also reducing light pollution in rural areas and the reduced use of lighting also reduces the need for lighting maintenance, improving safety for workers and reducing repair costs, it claims.
Confused.com says that together the switch-offs total 47.4 miles of unlit motorway between midnight and 05:00.
According to its research, drivers' concerns include not being able to see clearly and getting tired
Motoring News January 17, 2012 11:25 am
Lorry Driver Jailed Over M6 Crash
A lorry driver from North Yorkshire has been sentenced to serve six years in jail after causing a motorway crash on the M6, during which two men were killed while changing a tyre on the hard shoulder. The 62-year-old, Malcolm Simpson was caught on CCTV drifting between lanes on the motorway before the September 2010 accident between junctions 17 and 18 near Sandbach. The Highways Agency camera footage was shown to the Chester Crown Court jury.
The two men who were killed were 39-year-old Philip Cawley and 69-year-old Thomas Southward. Simpson had hit the hard shoulder, swerved back to nearly the middle lane and then hit the hard shoulder again and the two men. Southward could be seen on camera being thrown into traffic and then getting hit by a second HGV. Both men’s injuries were so bad that they weren’t fully publicised out of respect for the families.
Simpson had fallen asleep at the wheel, as he was so tired from driving too long. However, he denied falling asleep and apologised to the families for their loss. However, he added that it was “just one of those things”. Inquiries revealed that he repeatedly exceeded driving time restrictions and didn’t take sufficient rest breaks required by law during the fortnight before the accident. At 54mph, readouts show that he would have had just three seconds to take avoiding action after hitting the hard shoulder and seeing the men.
The lorry driver behind Simpson said that he could see the events unfold like a scene from a horror film. He pressed his horn desperately in a bid to alert Simpson of the situation. A Territorial Army medic stopped at the scene and climbed up to Simpson’s cab. He said that the driver was saying that he was “shaking like a leaf” and that he thought he “might have hit him”.
Cheshire Police motorway inspector Liz Cunningham said that this was a tragic incident that left a hole in the lives of the two victims’ families. Although the sentence will bring some closure, the incident will stay with the families forever as they attempt to come to terms with such a terrible loss. The tragedy could have been avoided if Simpson paid the correct and necessary attention. He was a professional driver in a high-risk environment.
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Wales urged to snub 80mph motorway limit plans
by WalesOnline Jan 20th 2012
The UK Government is set to launch a public consultation on raising the motorway speed limit from 70mph to 80mph by 2013. But a group of 25 Welsh organisations yesterday called on the Welsh Government to use its power to set its own speed limit should the government in England decide to raise the maximum speed for cars.
The Sustainable Transport Cymru alliance argued that increased speeds will lead to more accidents, higher casualty rates and increased carbon emissions.
Lee Waters, chairman of Sustainable Transport Cymru, said: “The Welsh Government has a strong record on road safety, but to sustain this we must continue to make bold decisions that are in the interests of all Welsh people, not the speed of a few.
“Ignoring the argument that this decision has the potential to raise our oil consumption and carbon emissions at a time when we need to cut both, this decision also has the potential to devastate family lives.”
The coalition, which includes bus operators, public transport user groups and campaigners, pointed to a recent editorial in the British Medical Journal which opposed the speed increase.
The BMJ said: “It is intuitive that higher speeds will result in more collisions and that collisions at such speeds are likely to result in more serious injuries and deaths, a perception supported by the evidence. However, the health consequences extend beyond road safety. They include greater emissions and consequent air pollution, and, potentially, rising levels of obesity as a result of increased car use among those taking advantage of shorter journey times.”
Analysis of Department of Transport (DfT) figures suggests an increase in average traffic speeds of just 3mph – a typical change for a 10mph rise – would be expected to cause more than 25 extra deaths a year on motorways and more than 100 serious injuries.
DfT figures also show that every death on the roads costs £1.5m by the time police, ambulances, hospitals, inquests, funerals, prosecutions, insurance companies and loss of earnings are all factored in.
The coalition warned additional deaths and casualties associated with raising the speed limit would cause a further burden on the emergency services in particular at a time when their budgets are already stretched.
In announcing the consultation in September, the then Transport Secretary Philip Hammond claimed increasing the speed limit on motorways for cars, light vans and motorcycles “could provide hundreds of millions of pounds of benefits for the economy”.
However, the Transport Committee Report on Road Traffic Speed found that higher speeds would do little to reduce journey times.
On the congested motorways of England an 80 mph limit might well increase them because it would create an uneven flow.
'It's just one of those things': How lorry driver reacted after killing two men in motorway smash
Philip Cawley and Thomas Southward 'stood no chance' when HGV hit them as they changed tyre
Trucker Malcolm Simpson is jailed for six years after ploughing into the two men
By Kerry Mcqueeney Last updated at 1:15 PM on 14th January 2012
A lorry driver who was responsible for the deaths of two men in a motorway smash described the accident as 'just one of those things'.
Philip Cawley and Thomas Southward were changing a tyre on the hard shoulder of the M6 at Sandbach in Cheshire when trucker Malcolm Simpson careered into them.
The two were described as having 'no escape' when they were hit by the articulated lorry, which had first strayed into the third 'fast' lane - prohibited for heavy goods vehicles - and twice drifted on to the hard shoulder before ploughing into the defenceless men.
Simpson, of Selby in north Yorkshire, was jailed for six years after a judge said he placed the security of his load before public safety.
The trucker, a lorry driver for nearly 30 years, showed no emotion
'Terrifying' speeds are risking lives of drivers and emergency services on M5 motorway
Friday, January 06, 2012 This is Somerset
Drivers on the M5 motorway risk causing a fatal accident by not paying attention to warning signs and slowing down.
That's the belief of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service group manager Andy Newland, after witnessing what he described as a 'terrifying' incident on Tuesday evening.
Mr Newland was travelling northbound on the M5 between junctions 28 and 29 at around 5.30pm when he noticed a single vehicle had crashed into the central reservation on the opposite carriageway.Two people were still in the car, not injured but unable to safely exit the vehicle.
It was damaged and facing the wrong direction with its headlights and hazard warning lights operating.
Mr Newland turned around at the next junction and positioned his vehicle with his rear red lights and blue lights flashing. The Highways Agency had operated its matrix warning signs indicating a problem and a lane-three closure.
“Traffic was continuing to bear down on the scene at speeds around 70mph and more, despite all the warnings already in place,” said Mr Newland.
“I witnessed multiple near misses as on-coming and still speeding motorists took evasive action to leave lane three, causing them to move sharply into lanes two and one.”
Several motorists were seen driving too fast despite Andy wearing high visibility clothing and waving a floodlight torch to warn on-coming traffic.
Andy, who has 26 years of experience with the fire service, said the incident was 'terrifying'.
“It was as if the scene was invisible to dozens of motorists,” he said. “Fortunately, no one was injured and no other vehicles became involved, but it was a miracle that no one was killed or injured.”
The emergency services arrived quickly afterwards to slow down on-coming traffic and allow the driver and his young passenger to leave the area safely.
But Mr Newland is urging drivers to slow down and obey warning signs when they see them, to protect those involved in the incident and emergency services workers
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Early 2012 news