Drivers’ ‘shocking’ abuse of workers

Roadworkers have experienced verbal and physical abuse while working on the region's roads.
Roadworkers have experienced verbal and physical abuse while working on the region's roads.

Motorists in Dumfries and Galloway are subjecting road workers to such “shocking” levels of verbal and physical abuse that a safety campaign has been launched to tackle the problem.

Scotland TranServ, which maintains the area’s trunk roads, and Transport Scotland have mounted the campaign after recent figures showed that 77 per cent of workers had been verbally abused and 43 per cent had objects thrown at them including eggs, bananas, beer cans, bricks and even bottles of urine.

The staggering statistics also reveal that, in addition, 17 per cent had been physically abused and 15 per cent had been injured as a result of a incident involving frustrated drivers.

In the last year Scotland TranServ has resurfaced around 36 kilometres of trunk road, delivered improvements on bridges and other structures and managed and maintained roads and verges. The company says that while it tries to keep the impact of its work to a minimum, sometimes disruption is necessary.

Andy Fraser, operating company representative, said that the figures, combined with accounts of dangerous driving and missiles thrown at workers, were “concerning”

He added: “Our operatives are real people, with real lives and real families, families who want their partners and parents to come home safely at the end of the working day.”

The campaign’s aim is to highlight unsafe, reckless and antisocial behaviour which puts workers’s lives at risk as well as the verbal abuse that they experience daily and reflects wider problems across the country. Support has been given by a number of national motoring and worker safety organisations.

Simon Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, said: “Those working to fix and improve our roads deserve our respect rather than the shocking abuse many are often subjected to. Anyone who abuses road workers, either physically or verbally, should be reported to the police.

“We urge motorists who witness this kind of behaviour from others to remember the number plate of the offending vehicle and then to get in contact with the police.”

Sandy Allan, road safety manager for RoSPA in Scotland, also condemned the actions by what is a minority of motorists.

He added: “Respecting the safety of those working close to ‘live traffic’ is essential. Everyone is entitled to feel and be safe on our roads and especially individuals who are more exposed than those driving.

“Essential works undertaken on our roads benefit all, and these cannot always be achieved without limited disruption.”

The campaign will carry the hashtag #roadworkersafety on social media throughout June.