Signs not placed enough distance in front of roadworks to warn motorists… A road maintenance company based in Wolverhampton have been prosecuted for multiple safety failings that led to a motorcyclist being paralysed after he crashed into traffic signs.
The 47-year-old accident victim was riding his motorcycle on 7 June 2010 when his vehicle collided with the traffic signs on a junction near Benhall. The man suffered severe injuries in the accident and is currently unable to move any of his limbs and doesn’t have the ability to communicate. He requires around the clock residential care and his family have been informed that it is unlikely his condition will improve.
The maintenance company appeared in court after investigators from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that the first indication of upcoming roadworks was placed less than 200 metres before the road closed, on a stretch of road that permitted speeds of 50 mph.
Ipswich Crown Court was told that roadworks signs should have warned motorists at intervals of 800, 400 and 200 metres ahead of the actual closure in order to ensure driver safety. The sign that was placed on the road was placed at just 175 metres in advance of the road closure giving motorists very little time to change their speed and avoid the roadworks area.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £180,000 in addition to costs of £28,551.
HSE Inspector Sandy Carmichael spoke after the hearing:
“This was a tragic incident that was utterly life-changing, not just for the accident victim but also for his wife and family. He was an experienced driver who travelled that route regularly between his home in Ipswich and his work in Sizewell.
“Had the company complied with the industry’s code of practice and correctly placed temporary warning signs to alert motorists in good time to the roadworks, this dreadful incident could have been avoided.
“Sadly, as a result of the company’s failure to take simple safety measures, road users were put at serious risk and the victim was so badly injured that he has been left completely paralysed.
“Roadworks provide increased risk in what is already a very hazardous environment. Anyone doing work on our roads must take great care to warn road users in good time what to expect on the road ahead.”
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