Safety Barriers are just rusting away

A quick test for you. Was the photograph on the left taken in Nigeria, Cyprus or the UK?

Yes you guessed it – it’s right here in the UK, at junction 22 of the M5 to be precise.

We understand from the Department for Transport that ALL safety barrier in the UK satisfies European Standards – in this case it is European standard EN1317 applies.

We would absolutely love to know who has ever carried out a safety test on steel barrier this rusty – and when they did it. To the best of our knowledge all the tests ever done have been on pristine-condition barrier fresh out of the factory and we believe that no test has ever been carried out on rusty steel, clearly well past its sell-by date, to see if it will still restrain a wayward vehicle.

We take exactly the same view with regards to the rather unusual steel barrier found between junctions 1 and 3 on the M5 and in many places around the M42. Again, our sources tell us this steel, known as “Series 31’ in the trade,  has never been tested and that, again, it does not satisfy the current European standards which have been adopted in the UK.

Of course the big question we are all asking is why this allowed to go on?

Can you imagine if this was the aviation industry or the rail network? Can you imagine looking out of the plane window as you prepare to jet-off on your annual holidays to see rusty old bolts along the wings or the fuselage?

Of course not – the plane would be grounded immediately along with the rest of the fleet while safety checks were carried out and the offending rotting parts replaced. When it comes to our road network it seems to be a whole different story. If you need an MOT for your car you damn well need an MOT for the safety barrier that is there to save your life.

Anyone living anywhere near the M5 should write to their MP asking who has approved  steel safety barrier that has clearly rusted through. It needs replacing and it needs replacing before someone dies.

As the government increasingly looks to find new ways of saving money, here at Safer Motorways we feel obliged to point out that continued improvement to our motorway barrier system is one of the best ways of saving money. The investment is repaid many times over.

Not only does improved safety barrier save money – but as we continually point out, it saves lives too. The aviation industry puts safety first – it is time the the road industry did the same.

As we all know, this is now a major issue for all countries, not just the UK.

At a recent seminar organised by the road safety charity RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), delegates came from as far as Cyprus, Hong Kong and Nigeria to discuss ways of minimising the impact of reduced public spending on our road systems.

Tom Mullarkey, chief executive for RoSPA said “ In the light of reduced public spending, it is more important than ever that road safety is undertaken efficiently and effectively, and I hope this seminar will provide road safety professionals with plenty of ideas to take away and put into practice”.

We do too and we urge all of our readers to lobby their local ministers to ensure that UK motorways are maintained to the highest standard. Clearly, we have a long way to go judging by this photograph.

Is there any rusty steel barrier on the motorway where you live in the UK?

Send your photographs to us here at Safer Motorways at and we will send a bottle of Champagne to the reader who comes up with the best example, or should that be worst example, of dodgy steel. It will help our case in making our motorways the safest in Europe.