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2020 / 2021 Edition

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Tarmac call for law change to protect roadworkers

Tarmac

Company wants highways workers to get same level of protection against abuse as emergency workers

IT may be the season of goodwill, but festive cheer, it seems, does not extend to UK roads, as one in three British drivers admits to speeding through roadworks, risking the safety of highways workers.

New research commissioned by Tarmac reveals that drivers aged 18–24 confess to being the biggest speeders through roadworks with 41% admitting they do.

For those at the wheel in Yorkshire and Humberside, London and the West Midlands, it does not matter whether they have just passed tests or have been driving for decades, as motorists in these regions are the worst offenders for speeding through temporary roadworks.     

Despite highways workers delivering essential maintenance of roads, often at night, only 42% of Brits consider them to be key workers. Significantly, motorists did not appreciate the level of vital roadworks that take place overnight.

Half of all motorists polled believe drivers today are less considerate towards those repairing and maintaining roads than they were 10 years ago.

The research comes at a time when rates of abuse by members of the public towards highways workers are alarmingly high. More than 750 cases of aggression or verbal abuse – equivalent to one every other day – and more than 150 threats of violence or actual attacks with a weapon – equivalent to almost one a week – have occurred since 2017, and such incidents are on the rise.

Despite these alarming industry statistics, 83% of drivers say they have never seen an altercation between a roadworker and a member of the public. 

Tarmac are now calling on the Government to change the law to ensure highways workers are afforded the same level of protection against abuse as emergency workers. 

Rachel Heaps, who is leading Tarmac’s support for Stamp it Out, an industry taskforce collaborating to protect employees from roadworker abuse, said: ‘Our research reflects a long-term and underlying lack of respect for highways workers who help to keep Britain moving with a significant amount of activity taking place at night.

‘Abuse and reckless driving is going unnoticed and it’s a case of out of sight and out of mind. Everyone should feel safe at work and it’s only right that we do everything to support the physical and mental well-being of highway teams who work round the clock to build and maintain our roads.

‘2020 has rightly been a celebration of many other key workers’ contributions to society and we must also recognize the outstanding efforts of the UK’s unsung highways workers. While there might be less traffic this Christmas, we’d like to call on motorists to take extra care through roadworks as well as always being respectful to the workforce.’

Stamp it Out is aiming to provide greater protection for people working on the UK’s road network by raising awareness of the risks of entering roadworks and clamping down on abuse by making it a specific criminal offence to assault highways workers.

To change the law and ensure highways workers are afforded the same level of protection against abuse as other key workers, visit: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/548480

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