Drivers Urged To Get Roadworks Wise In M6 Upgrade

Drivers are being urged to ‘get wise’ – roadworks-wise – after one motorist was spotted stopping to adjust his door mirror in a live motorway lane.

The incident happened within the M6 junction 21a to junction 26 motorway upgrade construction zone. It was captured by the project’s dedicated roadworks team which uses CCTV to monitor traffic around the clock, helping to keep drivers safe while vital upgrades to the network are being completed.

The project is making good progress, with the work more than 50 per cent complete.  Free recovery is in place to quickly move broken down vehicles or others involved in road traffic collisions away from the motorway and help keep other drivers on the move.

But Dave Cooke, National Highways’ project manager, says drivers could be doing a lot more to help themselves. He said:

“No-one wants to break down or run out of petrol on the motorway, let alone doing so within the confined spaced of a construction zone with narrow lanes.
“The driver we spotted stopping to adjust his door mirror in lane three of our roadworks is an extreme example of someone needlessly putting themselves at risk but all drivers should exercise extra awareness and caution driving through motorway roadworks.
“This includes making sure they have enough fuel for journeys and keeping their vehicle well maintained with regular checks of things like tyres.”

M6 21 to 26 Feb 22-1a.jpg

New images released today show the extent -and depth – of some of the excvations taking place in the central reservation of the motorway

M6 21 to 26 Jan 22 Aerial-7a.jpg

Mr Cooke said that while the free recovery teams were quick to respond to incidents,  avoidable issues such as tyre failures and running out of fuel caused delays and disruption to other motorway users.

The advice also comes after a major update of the Highway Code was published, with the latest online version including updated guidance on key factors that contribute to safety-related incidents, including driving while tired, unroadworthy vehicles, safe towing, tailgating and driving in roadworks.   Only last week Cumbria Police urged people to drive more thoughtfully through a separate National Highways roadworks zone along the A66 near Appleby after reports of drivers speeding and ignoring temporary traffic lights.

M6 21 to 26 Feb 22-2a.jpg

Work on the project is going well with the central reservation – complete with new concrete safety barrier – along the northern section of the upgrade route re-opened last month 

M6 21 to 26 Jan 22 Aerial-12a.jpg

Roadworks for the M6 smart motorway upgrade, which started in March of last year and runs between Warrington and Wigan, were extended to cover the whole ten miles in October. They have recently been adjusted north of junction 23 at Haydock after work was completed on a new concrete central reservation barrier along this section of the motorway.   New photographs released today show how much has been achieved in the last year.

Mr Cooke said:

“Since the project started we’ve focused on getting the central reservation ready to install a concrete barrier.  This has now been completed north of junction 23 and last month we adjusted the roadworks so we can start work in the hard shoulders.
“A lot of the work we have been doing has been out of sight as we were installing new drainage and ducts for cabling and so on but the photos show how much we’ve actually achieved in the last year.  With heavy plant and some deep excavations in the central reservation the images are also a reminder why we have barriers and a 50mph speed limit in place to protect drivers passing through the roadworks.”

More than 120,000 vehicles use this section of the M6 every day. Replacing the steel restraint system with a concrete barrier will help further increase safety and reduce maintenance while adding a lane in each direction, backed by new technology, will provide more reliable journeys for everyone.

New radar detectors positioned along the motorway will automatically detect stationary vehicles. A total of 92 electronic signs will be used to set variable speed limits to prevent stop-start conditions and close lanes by displaying Red Xs during incidents. Around 40 new CCTV cameras will provide live images of the motorway 24 hours a day at National Highways’ regional operations centre in Newton-le-Willows.

Drivers will also be able to use one of ten new emergency areas as a place to stop if they experience a breakdown, with roadside telephones providing a direct link to the regional operations centre.

The roll-out of new all lane running (ALR) smart motorways was paused by the government in January to allow five years’ worth of safety and economic data to be collected. Work on stretches already under construction – such as the M6 – is continuing because these stretches are all more than half completed and leaving traffic management in place throughout the five-year pause would significantly disrupt drivers.

When these stretches are open they will all have technology in place to detect stopped vehicles – normally within 20 seconds – to give added reassurance to drivers who stop in a live lane.

More information about the project is available from a dedicated webpage.

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