Over £2 million worth of Highways Agency funding has been spent on 3,000 screens to stop drivers rubbernecking at motorway crashes.
We’ve all probably done it – taken a quick glance over at a stranded car on the motorway, hoping everything and everyone is OK.
It’s expected that preventing motorists from slowing down to observe the aftermath of an unfortunate event will cut unnecessary traffic jams, further delaying journeys following a crash.
The sightscreens cost £22,000 each – with the Highways Agency purchasing 105 sets totalling £2.31 million – and will be introduced across the nation’s road network during 2013.
Standing 2m tall and stretching up to 75m in length, it is hoped that the method of blocking passing motorists’ vision will also reduce clear-up times, as well as secondary accidents through drivers focussing on other things than the road ahead.
The implementation of these screens is part of a wider set of plans from the Department for Transport to help make motorways re-open quicker after a crash.
The UK’s three-lane carriageways can sometimes remain closed for hours after a serious incident to ensure the clean-up operation is performed correctly, as well as not putting other motorists at risk due to the distraction.
Called CLEAR – Collision, Lead, Evaluate, Act and Re-open – the new methods should improve the quality and confidence in using our road network.
Roads Minister Stephen Hammond told the BBC:
“This will be another great advantage to hopefully clearing up collisions but also getting the roads moving rather more quickly afterwards.
“People will recognise these screens, recognise that something’s happening behind it, but actually realise it won’t impact on their motorway – there’s nothing to see, and we want to keep the motorways flowing.”
DRUG-DRIVING ‘DRUGALYSER’ TEST KITS APPROVED
The Home Office has approved a new piece of technology for police use that can test for the presence of drugs in a driver’s blood.
The latest system – dubbed the ‘drugalyser’ – can analyse a mouth swab to detect traces of cannabis and is leading the way in development of testing other illegal substances, according to Hertfordshire-based makers Draeger.
The machine will be used at police stations to check individuals on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs and eradicates the need for a doctor to be on duty in order to test motorists. Unlike drink-driving levels, it is thought any traces of illegal drugs will be met with zero tolerance.
This is the only way the authorities could previously detect if a person had signs of drugs in their blood.
Instead, the sample would be taken, with a doctor called to take blood if a positive test is recorded. A blood specimen needs to be obtained to bring about prosecution in court.
Drivers caught behind the wheel after taking both legal and illegal drugs that can alter driving ability could face up to six months in jail and a maximum £5,000 fine – as well as an automatic driving ban of at least 12 months, similar to the punishment for drink-driving.
Department for Transport statistics highlighted that 640 accidents – including 49 deaths – were caused by drug-driving in 2011.
Policing and criminal justice minister Damian Green:
“Those who take drugs and go out on the roads are a menace to pedestrians, other motorists and themselves.”
The testing kits will be introduced as part of a wider crackdown that will see driving under the influence of drugs become a crime under new legislation.