As staff from National Highways are preparing to strike, and Britain is plunged into severe weather conditions, the UK’s leading independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, is warning motorists to take extra care during the disruption.
IAM RoadSmart is urging people to only travel on main roads in England if necessary, and check their vehicle before their journey, as limited support on the highways could put lives at risk. This could cause further danger as roads are expected to get much busier with other transport strikes taking place over the Christmas period.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), who work at National Highways, are taking part in 12 days of industrial action, starting on Thursday 15 December, in a dispute over working conditions and pay.
The traffic officers and control centre staff going on strike are responsible for programming electronic signs that provide information about speed limits and lane closures, working closely with emergency services to monitor the roads and support when there is a collision.
This industrial action takes the estimated total of people striking in December to 1.3 million - along with ambulance workers, nurses, rail staff, Royal Mail staff, driving examiners and members of the Border Force.
Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “We are very concerned about these strikes. Control centre staff monitor information from traffic detectors and CCTV, and act on it to set the warning signs - they are often the first point of call when there is an incident.
“Having the right support there to act fast is absolutely critical on motorways, as any delays in setting signs or sending help could prolong someone being stranded on the side of a motorway, which can be life-threatening – even a few minutes can make the difference between getting involved in a collision or not.
“We want all drivers to be aware of the issue and, if they have to travel, to take as much care as they can on the roads – this is even more important when the road strikes coincide with severe weather and rail strikes. It has never been more important to make sure you have checked that your vehicle is safe, fuelled and prepared for any challenge.”