Three recent crossover incidents on the M5, in which vehicles have smashed through the central barrier into oncoming traffic on the opposite carriageway, have left three people dead.
Over the last few years, Safer Motorways has worked desperately hard to put this issue on the public agenda. Our reasoning is simple. First of all these deaths are completely unnecessary. We have had the technology to prevent such accidents for many years now – the technology has already appeared on many parts of the motorway network, but it is taking too long to take effect where it is needed most. It is simply a case of getting politicians to act now, not after more families have lost their loved ones.
Of course, you may be excused for thinking it is a cost issue – but this is not the case.
Even if you remove the human heartbreak associated with such tragedies, which in itself is an impossible thing to do, the financial argument is already well made. Having the best barrier system on the central reserve saves both money AND lives. It is estimated that each and every death on our road network costs on average around one million pounds. Now add to that the cost of the delays caused by such incidents, particularly to those poor motorists stuck in the resulting traffic jams for four hours or more and the cost argument is clear.
What has surprised us most about our campaign is the indifference of the MPs that are supposed to represent us.
We have sent photographs and a detailed summary of our finding to all of the MPs who have constituencies along the M5. We gave photographs of the accidents and a detailed summary of both the problem and solution. The response has been something of a shock.
Some MPs did not even bother to answer.
Some MPs wrote back and said we cannot deal with this as you are not a constituent in our area old boy. We suggest you contact your own MP (who lives 150 miles from the M5).
Clearly, if Air Traffic Control were to phone these MPs and tell them that a Boeing 747 was about to crash on their town hall they would only be interested if the air traffic control centre was based in the local village. Otherwise it is a case of sorry – please get someone who lives here to give us a call regarding this matter would you.
Even the media seem to have no interest in the fatalities on our road. If a motorway is blocked by such an incident it will make the local rag and and a few select web sites – but only for as long as the traffic is delayed. As soon as the traffic is moving again it is no longer considered newsworthy.
So, here’s our plea to all readers. If you live in any constituency that borders the M5, or indeed any motorway where the central barrier on the motorway does not look as if it would protect you from a HGV smashing through into the opposite lane, please write to your MP and raise the matter on our behalf would you? Feel free to refer them to this website where all of the photographs and hard facts about this campaign can be found.
Meanwhile. two more innocent people have died on the M5 in another cross-over incident since we last wrote to disinterested MPs in your constituency. We have to ask the question: How many more deaths will there be before action is taken to upgrade our central reserves and how long will it be before the long-suffering motorists gets the motorway they deserve?
Please help us – write to your MP today. And if you live long the M5 please write twice. Chances are the first one will be ignored.