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El Gordo

Saving lives by writing a letter

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In December, I had a bit of a mishap on the roads. Afterward I discovered that a procedural change had been in okace since the summer that had it not have happened, meant I may well have avoided having a collision.

The change in procedure in question is that the Highways Agency will no longer put up hazard warnings on a motorway matrix board of debris in the road, or a blocked lane, unless either a police officer or HATO is on scene to verify the report, or it can be seen by controllers on CCTV.
So, you or I can spot a major hazard and ring it in, and until someone gets there to say "yup, it's there", nobody else will be warned to slow down, or to get out of the blocked lane. A whole flow of traffic could hurtle headlong toward a stranded car, a spilled load, or an errant animal and be none the wiser. The consequences could be horrendous.

It goes without saying that the police themselves aren't happy with the change in procedure. In counties such as my own where there may be 2 cars on duty to cover the whole divisional area, 1 crash in one location and a pursuit in another could leave a whole stretch of motorway without any kind of cover, so when an incident occurs the nearest available traffic officer could be at the other end of the county, 20-30 minutes from getting there to deal with it.

And so I wrote the letter that I hope may save a life, or at least prevent an injury. I wrote to my MP. I utilised one of the few methods of voicing my democratic right to demand answers from those who make decisions that impact on our daily lives and safety.

Elliot Morley may be a card carrying tree-hugger, and directs around 80$ of questions at his former minitry DEFRA, but he's also a former biker. I asked if he would find out if the change in procedure is true, or if I was being spun a line by the police to explain why no matrix signs were up - and if the information is accurate, to confront the Ministry for Transport about it.

Needless to say he's shocked by the suggestion such a change took place. And the latest news is that he has now written to the Ministry for Transport, so we can only assume the change in procedure is in fact accurate.

I fully expect to be fobbed off by the ministry over how it's saving the rainforest by saving electricity and so the polar bears are more important than a few bikers on the motorways.

I'll let you know what the outcome is, as and when it happens.

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