Study finds some surprising reasons behind motorway closures

A study by the The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has discovered that more than 40 per cent of all motorway and major A road lane closures in England last year were caused by vehicle breakdowns.

It also discovered more than a hundred unsupervised children caused closures too.

The information came from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the IAM, the biggest independent road safety charity in the UK, which asked for the number of incidences of lane closures on Highways England-managed roads in 2014.

In total there were just over 440,000 lane closure incidents on motorways and primary A roads in England last year, caused by 44 different defined reasons.

The report also found:

•       12,759 pedestrians walking on a motorway live lane or active A road caused lane closures, in addition to the 122 unsupervised children.

•       There were also 7,446 cases of a ‘non-legal’ use of the hard shoulder.

•       Furthermore there were 3,990 animals loose on the network; 2,598 abandoned vehicles and 6,742 shed tyres

•       6,288 injury collisions and 29,656 non-injury collisions also caused lane closures

•       856 suicides or attempted suicides caused roads to be shut on England’s main routes.

•       There were also 152 cases of objects being thrown onto the roads, and 567 cases of a vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road causing roads to be closed.

Of the 185,457 breakdowns; 40,192 were in a ‘live lane’.

Almost half a million incidents took place in 2014 that led to a lane closure costing the economy an estimated £1 billion a year in terms of lost man hours on motorways alone.

Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “There are many worrying things that emerge from this information. Firstly, people are putting their own lives at risk and those of others by not maintaining their vehicles properly to the point they break down on our busiest roads.

“While we appreciate that a few breakdowns are unavoidable, such as a tyre blow out, the vast majority can be avoided or dealt with before taking a vehicle onto a key route.

“It also shows people do not treat our key economic arteries with the respect they deserve. Pedestrians, unsupervised children and objects thrown on the road should never be happening. It is clear an education and awareness campaign starting at school age is badly needed.”

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