As the darker nights close in and temperatures begin to fall, Sheffield drivers are being encouraged to take more care when passing through roadworks across the city.
The plea comes from Sheffield City Council’s Highways Maintenance contactor, Amey, following a survey into road workers safety, where Sheffield scored just above the national average.
However, despite achieving an above average score for overall road worker safety, 62% of Sheffielders have admitted to not being as safety conscious as they should be when negotiating roadworks – compared to a 59% UK average.
The research, which was carried out on behalf of Amey, reveals a majority of UK road users admit to driving in ways that put themselves, workers and other road users at risk of injury or even, death.
Melissa Wise, Operations Director at Streets Ahead said:
“Whilst the figures for Sheffield are just above the national average, there’s still a long way to go to ensure that our workers feel completely safe when carrying out their job on the city’s roads.
“Our programme of works is vast and we’re often working across multiple locations throughout Sheffield at one time. What’s more, we regularly carry out work during night time hours to avoid further disruption during peak travel times. However, this poses its own challenges for our teams, particularly during the winter when it’s darker and weather conditions are more unpredictable.
“The majority of people do drive responsibly but there has been a number of incidents where restrictions or diversions have been ignored, which is not acceptable or safe.
“We know diversions and disruption can cause frustration for drivers, but it’s sometimes essential for us to close roads and that’s usually when we see a rise in incidents. Our workers are there to do their job and it’s not right for them to face fear of injury whilst on site.”
Recently, in Sheffield, where a road closure was in place during resurfacing works, a car attempted to drive through the closure and, despite attempts by on-site workers to inform the driver of the closure, the driver continued, parking up further down the street only to obstruct ongoing work.
Unfortunately, in addition to dangerous driving, Streets Ahead employees have also experienced offensive behaviour, with many having suffered physical and verbal abuse whilst doing their jobs on the streets of Sheffield.
“We’ve had numerous incidents involving threats of physical violence and actual physical violence to our workforce and our sub-contractors. We’ve also had operatives who have been clipped by cars as they’ve sped past,” added Melissa.
“With the number of vehicles on our roads continuing to rise each year, and with darker nights and wintry conditions on the horizon, we want to remind Sheffield drivers to take extra care when travelling around roadworks and always put safety first.”
The findings echo recent research undertaken by Highways England, which revealed a catalogue of serious incidents and near misses across the country, ranging from motorists driving into coned-off areas, to physical and verbal abuse of workers.
As part of the city-wide highways maintenance Streets Ahead contract, roads and pavements across Sheffield are being upgraded and maintained by Amey until 2037, creating a much improved infrastructure for years to come.
To find out more about the Streets Ahead programme of works visit: www.sheffield.gov.uk/streetsahead
Be ready for winter in good time this year by visiting www.sheffield.gov.uk/winter to find out more about our service.