Failure to install concrete barrier costs another life

A young man died on the A329M near Reading when his vehicle crossed the carriageway and hit a Ford Transit van traveling in the opposite direction.

The response from the general public was immediate.

“Why has the Council not installed concrete barrier earlier on this section of (what is all but in name) a fully fledged motorway?”

Amongst the condolences, the forums are now full of discussion about who is to blame but here at Safer Motorways we believe the innocent victims traveling in the opposite direction are the ones who seem to get the least consideration. This time, fortunately, the van driver survived. All to often we read about entire families wiped out by needless motorway crossovers. Surely it is time that a long-term view was taken to keeping our roads as safe as they can reasonably be.

It is understood that Wokingham Council did apply to central government in 1997 for funds to install a barrier along the central reservation of the A329M but the application was rejected.

Can we suggest they try again?

“This is one of only two motorways in the UK managed by a local council” TFS Bracknell claims. “The cost of a crash barrier on the central reservation will be in excess of £5million, which will have to be funded by the rate-payers in Wokingham in the form of increased council tax. Wokingham Council made an application to central government in 2007 for funding for a crash barrier, and it was rejected.

The entire road budget for the council is only about £5million per year. The council just does not have the money to pay for a crash barrier. Unfortunately, there were 95 road deaths in Wokingham in 2008 – most were not on the A329M. If the council does find has £5million pounds to spend, it would do better spending it on the minor roads which have the highest death toll”.

We have heard this argument many times. If you are one of those people who believe that the tax-payer cannot afford such “luxuries”, think again.

First of all, bear in mind that it has been estimated that the cost of any fatal accident on our roads is in excess of one million pounds. Concrete Safety Barrier which is the preferred system for central reservations has a shelf-life well in excess of fifty years. Whether your motivation is the safety of the traveling public or the financial implications of providing that safety, surely this is a no-brainer.

Of course, the real cost of such a tragic accident goes much deeper than this.

To the grieving families involved (there is usually more than one) the financial cost is the least of their concerns. At the other end of the scale, millions of pounds are lost as hundreds of motorists who are not even aware of the cause, sit in tail-backs and traffic jams hour after hour. It all adds to the total cost.

We would suggest that the true cost of any fatal accident like this is more likely to be £5 million.

If we are right, pay-back to the British tax-payer on a project of this kind is immediate.

The biggest sadness of all is that the young man involved in this accident had just returned from his second tour of Afghanistan with the RAF – only to die needlessly on a UK road. We spent the best part of £350,000 training this man to defend our country – has anyone considered that when they say we cannot afford to but concrete barrier. I very much suspect not.

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