On one of the busiest traveling weekends of the year the M25 was closed after a lorry hit the central reservation on Friday evening. The lorry load of aluminium bars were thrown into the path of oncoming traffic on the opposite carriageway. Three people were injured, one critically – amazingly no one was killed.
Traffic jams extended for over 30 miles as motorists sat and waited for the barrier repairs to be completed. Many were stuck in the jam for up to six hours including the Bournemouth AFC football team who didn’t arrive for their game against Charlton Athletic until midnight. Gatwick was thrown into absolute chaos as passengers failed to arrive at the airport on time.
And the cost of all this? Who knows?
It must run into millions and millions of pounds – and that doesn’t allow for the misery caused to families looking forward to a weekend away.
But despite a great deal of media coverage no one asked the question, “could this have been avoided?”.
If they had the answer would have been …. YES. Once again we are at pains to point out that if concrete safety barrier had been installed on this section of the M25 none of this would have happened.
Police say they are appealing for witnesses. They don’t need to. The real culprit is whoever decided that the existing steel safety barrier is fit for purpose.
Yes, following what is believed to be a tyre blow-out, the lorry would have still hit the concrete safety barrier.
But without any shadow of a doubt we know that there would have been no repairs required to the barrier and the motorway would have been open within hours.
But the benefits of having concrete barrier on the central reserve go even further than that. It is possible that the “skirt” on concrete safety barrier which is designed to guide the wheels of an errant vehicle back in line with the traffic flow may have even prevented the direct impact altogether and kept the lorry moving. If this were the case the aluminium load may have well stayed on board the lorry rather than being hurtled into the path of oncoming traffic.
David Jones, Director of Britpave, said “This was a major incident that had severe personal and traffic congestion consequences. The provision of a concrete barrier would have considerably lessened the traffic chaos that was experienced in the area. A concrete barrier would have prevented the lorry from crashing through the central reservation and protected the gantry which was also damaged in the accident and required replacement causing even more delays”
Safer Motorways continues to campaign for replacement of obsolete steel barrier on our major road network in order to save time, to save money but most importantly, to save lives.