Motorway safety alert

LEIGH’S youngsters are being urged to stay safe in the summer holidays – by keeping off the region’s motorway network.

With the arrival of the long school holidays and light evenings the Highways Agency is urging parents to talk to young children and teenagers about the dangers of playing on or near the motorway network.

Throughout the school holidays, Highways Agency Traffic Officers based in the Highways Agency’s North West Regional Control Centre at Newton-le-Willows, where CCTV coverage of the region’s motorway network is monitored, will be increasing their vigilance with on road Traffic Officers and the North West Motorway Police Group (NWMPG) to tackle incidents where children are spotted playing or walking on or around the motorway network.

And any youngsters seen straying onto the network risk getting a visit from the police at home.

The Highways Agency works in partnership with other organisations such as the police and fire service to drive home the motorway safety message.

Matt Sweeting, the Highways Agency’s regional Asset Delivery Manager, said: “We work very hard through our own staff and with other agencies throughout the year to get the safety message across but as well as safety awareness we are out all the time checking and improving physical measures to prevent people coming onto the motorway network.

“However, parents have a key role in reminding children of the dangers and the sometimes tragic consequences of playing on or near the motorway network.”

Inspector Andy Chandler, in charge of the NWMPG, said: “With the long school holidays about to begin we just want to remind parents and children of the dangers of playing on or near the motorway network.

“Children are particularly poor at appreciating the dangers within the motorway environment and judging the size and speed of vehicles using our motorways.

“We want to get the message across that the motorway is no place to play and the best way to avoid horseplay turning into a tragedy is to stay well away.”

It is illegal to walk anywhere on the motorway network – with offenders risking a £30 on-the-spot fine - except in an emergency such as a break down when drivers and passengers should call for help and stay behind the hard shoulder barrier.

Inspector Chandler added that a spike in ‘pedestrian on the network’ incidents was common during the summer months. And the stay away advice applied to adults as well as children with people often tempted to take short cuts home along or across the motorway, often with their judgement impaired by drink or drugs, and ending with tragic consequences.