DIARY NOTE

 

DATE: THURSDAY 20TH AUGUST 2015

INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITITES:

JAMES GIBSON, ROAD SAFETY GB

***FULL REGIONAL BREAKDOWN AVAILABLE***

STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:01 THURSDAY 20TH AUGUST 2015

SCREENS TO DETER MORBID RUBBERNECKERS

DEPLOYED ON BRITISH MOTORWAYS

 

  • Nearly half (48%) of Brits think it's only human to be curious when witnessing a road traffic accident, despite the risk of secondary accidents[i]
  • One in seven (15%) UK drivers have seen another motorist take photos at the scene of a crash
  • New FOI data reveals Highways England bought 3000 incident screens, in 2009, costing £2.2m to help combat rubbernecking[ii]
  • Since 2012 the screens have been deployed 77 times on English and Scottish motorways and A-roads
  • Traffic accidents cost £750m to the economy in England every year[iii]

New research from Confused.com reveals almost half of Brits (48%) believe it is normal to be curious at the scene of a traffic accidenti.  Almost three quarters (72%) will glance at incidents as they drive past, and, shockingly,one in 10 (10%) admit they’d even reduce their speed if it meant taking a better look. “Rubbernecking" – the act of slowing down in an attempt to view the aftermath of a crash- can often have some serious consequences such as increased congestion, minor accidents or, worse, fatal collisions. 

According to the new research, 69% of motorists believe that stopping to look at a road traffic accident is dangerous, while a quarter (25%) see it as disrespectful to the victims involved or a voyeuristic exercise (19%). Yet it seems that many drivers just can’t fight the urge. One in seven (15%) have even seen fellow road users taking photos whilst passing crash sites. Unsurprisingly, nearly one in five (17%) Brits recall hours being added on to their journey due to disruptive motorists reducing their speed to look at an accident on the other side of the road. 

In a recent case, in May 2015, 20 drivers were stopped by the police for filming the scene of a serious accident on the A14 in Cambridgeshire. Those involved could face charges of careless driving which carries a maximum £5,000 fine and up to nine penalty points[iv].

In order to tackle the problem of “rubbernecking” and reduce the estimated £750m cost to the economyii, Highways England purchased 105 iii sets of incident screens in 2009. The sets, costing £2.2m, contain a total of 3000 individual screens each measuring 2.1m by 2m. They are used to deter drivers who stop to look at crashes on the opposite carriageway, slowing down the traffic behind and encouraging low speed collisions as a result.

Six years after the purchase, new FOI data obtained by Confused.com reveals the screens have been used 70 times in England and seven times in Scotland[v]. The new data also reveals that, in addition to the original cost, £100,869.94ii has been spent on maintenance, servicing, refurbishment and transportation since 1st January 2012.

Regions with the most screen usage include the South East (16 times) followed by East (14 times) and North West (14).  

Regional breakdown showing the number of times incident screens

 have been used across England & Scotland

Region

Number of times screens have been used (April 2013 – June 2015)

Locations

South East

16

  • M23 J9/8
  • M26 J1/2A
  • A27 A283/A270
  • M25 J4J
  • M25 J9/8
  • M20 J10/9
  • M20 J10/9
  • M3 J5/4A
  • A20 HAWKINGE
  • M25 J2 BSIDE
  • M3 J6/5
  • A21 SEVENOAKS
  • A34 A303/A343
  • A2 JOYDENS WOOD/DARENTH
  • M25 J4 BSIDE
  • A303 A34/A30

East

14

  • M25 J16/15
  • M1 J5/6
  • M11 J7/8
  • M40 J6/5
  • M40 J8A/9
  • M1 J12 ASIDE
  • M1 J12/13
  • M1 J12/13
  • M40 J9 ASIDE
  • A1M J6/7
  • A1 STIRLING CORNER
  • M40 J1A ASIDE
  • M25 J16/15
  • M11 J6/5

North West

14

  • M60 J17 BSIDE
  • M60 J8/9
  • M61 J6/8
  • M67 J1A/J1
  • M60 J1L
  • M62 J20/19
  • M65 J9/10
  • M60 J17 ASIDE
  • M61 J6J
  • M53 J3/4
  • M62 J8/7
  • M60 J24/23
  • M65 J10/9
  • M6 J42 ASIDE

East Midlands

9

  • A1 LONG BENNINGTON/BALDERTON
  • A46 A1133 JUNCTION
  • A42 J13 BSIDE
  • M1 J19
  • A42 J12 BSIDE
  • M1 J21A BSIDE
  • M6 BEFORE J1
  • A1 A620/A57
  • M1 J26 BSIDE

West Midlands

7

  • M6 J1/2
  • M5 BEFORE J1
  • M6 J10
  • M6 J3/2
  • M6 J13/12
  • M5 J2/3
  • A46 J4

Scotland

7

  • A737, ST JAMES
  • M80, STIRLING
  • M8, GLASGOW
  • A9, NORTH OF PERTH
  • A77, BELLFIELD
  • GLASGOW CITY CENTRE
  • M77, FENWICK

North East

6

  • A1 A694 JUNCTION
  • M1 J40 BSIDE
  • A168 TOPCLIFFE BYPASS
  • M1 J46 BSIDE
  • A1 A66 JUNCTION
  • M62 J36/37

South West

4

  • M5 J20/19
  • A303BULFORD/CHOLDERTON
  • M4 J22/23
  • M4 J17 ASIDE

Meanwhile, according to the new research, only 12% of Brits have actually seen a large screen being used to block a road accident during their journey, whilst more than a quarter (27%) think police should always put up screens.

 

James Gibson, Road Safety GB’s spokesperson says: “With rubbernecking there is a significant chance of a secondary crash happening and also an increase in congestion, so preventing drivers from staring at a crash scene has to be a good thing. I understand the incident screens proved successful in an initial trial and this prompted the purchase of further screens.

 

“It would be interesting to see evidence that shows just how well they are reducing accident clear-up times and secondary collisions now they have been used for several years. The screens typically take 20 minutes to erect so this will mean that they are used at incidents that are going to take a few hours to clear up.”

 

He adds: “There will always be occasions where it will not be practical to deploy the screens. When an incident occurs we would encourage all drivers to be particularly careful as secondary incidents are quite common, please concentrate and leave sufficient space between you and the vehicle in front.”



[i] OnePoll carried out research of 2000 UK motorists between 31st July – 4th August on behalf of Confused.com

[ii] Confused.com issued Freedom of Information requests to Highways England, Traffic Wales, Transport Scotland and Transport NI. The FOI request asked four questions related the purchase of incident screens as a deterrent to rubbernecking:

“1. How many ‘incident’ screens have been bought by the Highways Agency per year since 2012 in an attempt to stop drivers rubbernecking when passing motorway accidents?

2. How much money has been spent on these incident screens since 2012?

3. How many times have the screens been used per year since 2012?

4. In relation to question (3), please specify when and where in the country the screens have been used.

Could you please indicate the number of screens bought by your agency even if the purchase has been ordered before 2012?”

  • Highways England (formerly Highways Agency) purchased 105 incident screen units back in 2009.  Each incident screen unit (which includes a trailer to transport it) cost £22,000.  No further units have been required since this original purchase.  The procurement of the screens was subject to a fully competitive tendering exercise.  Dutch Incident Management Specialists Wilchem BV won the contract to supply the incident screens. 

Full training for the incident screens did not complete until March 2014, therefore from April 2013 – March 2014 there was a reduced amount of events where the incident screens were used as there would have been a limited amount of trained traffic officers available to deploy and install them.

The total amount spent on incident screens since the 1 January 2012 is £100,869.94 which includes maintenance, servicing, refurbishment and transportation.

  • Our request to Traffic Wales was met with a response from The South Wales Trunk Road Agent and the North and Mid Wales Trunk Road Agent who work on behalf of Welsh Government in managing and maintaining the motorway and trunk roads in Wales. South Wales Trunk Road Agent have not bought any Incident Screen Units since 2012 but are currently trialling one Unit as part of an on-going evaluation.
  • Please refer to end note ‘v’ for Transport Scotland’s response.
  • Transport NI are yet to respond.

[iv] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3100942/Twenty-drivers-points-100-fine-taking-pictures-four-lorry-pile-ll-know-letters-land-doormats.html

[v] Transport Scotland has not purchased any ‘Incident Screens’. They have had a set on long term loan from the Highways Agency (now Highways England) since September 2010.