UCATT condemns nonsensical and dangerous Government plans to relax 50mph speed limit on motorway roadworks


Construction union UCATT, which represents hundreds of motorway maintenance staff, has slammed plans to allow motorists to speed up to 60mph within motorway roadworks. It is universally known that lower driving speeds statistically reduce accidents particularly within road works, and yet even at these reduced speeds, British drivers are notorious for violating coned areas, putting motorway maintenance staff at risk of injury or death.


Motorway maintenance staff already work in a highly dangerous environment with several fatalities a year, particularly at night, when drivers suffering from tiredness or drink, or while using their phones while driving, routinely plough through and into coned areas containing workers.


Drivers’ groups have lobbied for increased speeds in roadworks claiming firstly, it will reduce congestion and secondly, it will stop late night drivers picking up speeding fines. Neither argument holds water. Studies have shown that measured, reduced speeds actually aid traffic flow; and driving at high speeds through work areas further endangers the roadwork maintenance workers.


In addition, with the Government also moving to increase custodial sentences for negligent drivers, increasing speeds within coned, roadwork areas will produce higher numbers of negligent drivers. Greater numbers of drivers will fail to negotiate road works at higher speeds, they will endanger the lives of more maintenance workers, and will consequently find themselves in prison.


UCATT Acting General Secretary, Brian Rye, said: “What the Government is proposing is a deadly version of Wacky Races. The average motorist is not capable of driving safely through coned areas at high speed. Anyone with a passing knowledge of this dangerous work environment knows that the British motorist routinely smashes through coned areas due to driving incompetence and when they do this our members’ lives are at risk. If they do this at an even faster speed workers will die. These proposals will make a dangerous working area twice as dangerous.”


Mr Rye added: “We’re not sure which drivers’ groups are pressing for this change, which we know is currently being trialled on the M1, but there is no empirical justification for it. Reduced speeds aid traffic flow, as there’s less accelerating and unnecessary braking, and if you pick up a speeding ticket late at night, while going through roadworks at a speed in excess of 50mph – then you bloody well deserve it - because you are a potential killer of road maintenance workers.”


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