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Fri December 01 2023

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Survey exposes dangers of working on trunk roads

25 Jun 19 Half of workers on Scotland’s trunk roads have experienced a ‘near miss’ in the last year when vehicles mistakenly entered a works area, a new survey has found.

The survey has been carried out by Scotland’s three trunk road operating companies - Bear Scotland, Scotland TranServ and Amey as part of a campaign in conjunction with Transport Scotland to speak up for roadworkers in Scotland.

They found that 70% of workers on the trunk roads have experienced dangerous driver behaviour and that one in three reported dodging missiles including litter and even bottles of urine.

In the last year, 70% have had their lives put at risk by motorists’ dangerous driving behaviour or have been subjected to verbal or physical abuse while they carry out maintenance and improvement works on the country’s key routes.

The three operating companies are now calling on road users to be patient and respect the work force who carry out essential road maintenance. They are running a campaign this week to highlight the statistics and real-life accounts and experiences from their teams. 

The key findings of the 2019 Roadworker Safety survey taken from across almost 400 industry employees include:

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  • 70% of those surveyed reported instances of private vehicles entering the works safe-zone area;
  • 69% of those surveyed witnessed road users ignoring red lights at roadworks;
  • Nearly two out of three (65%) reported being verbally abused by passing motorists;
  • 52% had a near-miss –they narrowly avoided being hit by a private vehicle erroneously entering a works area;                                                  
  • 31% had missiles thrown at them in the past year by passing motorists - including plastic bottles, apple cores, eggs, juice cans and even bottles of urine;
  • 14% experienced physical abuse whilst carrying out works on some of Scotland’s busiest routes.

To try to counter these negative driver behaviours, CCTV body cameras have been deployed at some sites with additional signs installed at some locations to try and address the abuse and unsafe behaviour. 

Eddie Ross, speaking on behalf of Bear Scotland covering the North West and North East of Scotland, said:  “We understand that no one likes to be held up, however the behaviour of a small minority of road users is completely unacceptable. No one should have to experience unsafe or reckless behaviour in their workplace.  It is extremely disappointing to see the level of abuse and negative driver behaviour our teams have faced in the past year when they are doing their job in carrying out essential works to keep the trunk roads running safely.”

Andy Fraser, Scotland TranServ’s operating company representative, said: “More than two-thirds of our employees work on the trunk roads in the south west of Scotland every day. Their accounts of dangerous driving and the missiles thrown at them are concerning. While it is the minority of drivers who are responsible for such behaviour, it should not be tolerated in any shape or form on our trunk roads or elsewhere in our society. Our operatives are real people, with real lives and real families; families who want their dad, their husband and their son to come home safely at the end of the working day.”

Tom Wallace, Amey account manager for the Scottish South-East network, said: “Amey research in 2018 demonstrated that 61% of Scottish drivers appear to be wilfully ignoring road safety measures and driving recklessly through roadworks; even though the majority of them (89%) admit that being a road worker is a hazardous occupation. 77% admitted to regularly exceeding speed limits through road works. The travelling public would not want their own family put in harm’s way, and yet road workers also have families, loved ones and others who care for them; whose lives would be devastated if they were killed or injured simply doing their job.”                                                                                       

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