The RAC has taken the unusual step of releasing photographs of an horrific accident which occurred on the westbound hard-shoulder of the M4 to draw attention to the significant risk of breaking-down on the motorway.
There have been two tragic motorway fatalities this year of roadside operators – one on the M25 and one on the M69. This latest serious accident on the M4 starkly illustrates the dangers that roadside technicians face when attending motorway breakdowns.
In response the RAC is launching a campaign to encourage drivers to reduce their speed and increase the gap between their car and any vehicle and people on the hard shoulder, or indeed, in an emergency refuge area on a smart motorway.
RAC health and safety consultant Steve Robinson said, “The RAC is calling on drivers to ‘slow down, make space and move on’ when passing motorway breakdowns leaving plenty of space between their car and any vehicles and people on the hard shoulder.”
In the latest accident roadside technician Andrew Barrett, an RAC patrol for 14 years, was assisting a motorist whose car had suffered a puncture and was stopped on the hard shoulder near junction 15 to Swindon.
|He had positioned his patrol van correctly as trained with lights and beacons flashing a distance from the member’s vehicle and asked them to stand well back on the grass verge.
Andrew was changing the wheel on the off-side of the vehicle when another car travelling at speed collided with his patrol vehicle.
The collision was of such force that it rolled the three-tonne patrol vehicle, pushing it along the hard shoulder. The RAC member is believed to have struck his head and was knocked unconscious as he moved out of the way.
Surprisingly, the driver of the car which struck the patrol van, although injured, was able to climb out of his vehicle.
Andrew went to assist the member on the hard shoulder and alerted the police and ambulance service.
The police, fire brigade and ambulance service arrived at the scene swiftly and the westbound M4 was closed for approximately an hour and a half while and the crews attended and the damaged vehicles were removed, the carriageway cleared and re-opened.
|Andrew thanked those who helped at the scene and said, “It was horrific. One minute I was changing the customer’s front wheel the next I heard an almighty crunch and looked up to see my van rolling over towards us and the car spinning into the live lane. It was not an experience I want to repeat and it certainly shows you can never be complacent when attending a motorway breakdown.”
Steve Robinson said: “This was a major accident. It is a wonder that nobody was killed. This incident serves to show how dangerous it can be for anyone who has to stop on the hard shoulder of a busy motorway. We have released these shocking photographs of the RAC patrol van as they clearly demonstrate the need for a new way thinking when drivers encounter stricken motorists and breakdown operators at the roadside.
“Our patrols attend hundreds of broken-down vehicles every week on motorways, dual carriageways and high speed roads where they may be working just a few feet from cars and lorries speeding past at 70mph-plus. They are all trained in health and safety and risk management to take control of a breakdown scene and prioritise the safety of the driver and their passengers.”
|It is important that motorists familiarise themselves with what to do if they have a motorway breakdown and to ensure they make their vehicle and their passengers as safe as possible by using their lights and hazard lights, wearing a high-visibility vest and standing in a place of safety. Check advice on the rac.co.uk website.|