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Roadside recovery operators want greater protection

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Roadside recovery campaigners have called for increased protection after Government breakdown figures were revealed.

The appeals add to existing calls to legalise the use of red warning beacons.

Highways England figures show that 181,961 vehicles were hit with faults on the British motorways.

Breakdowns were up by 14.3% in the last year and totalled to more than 20% over the last two years.

Despite the rise in the overall number of vehicles on the road there was still an increase in breakdowns. However, over the course of the last year, traffic has increased by less than 1%.

Richard Goddard, spokesperson for Safer Roadside Rescue and Recovery, said: “The admission by Highways England that breakdowns are increasing is vindication for recovery operators who have been anecdotally claiming they need more protection to cope with increased breakdown frequency.

“More breakdowns means more recovery operators.”

“The Government should take the immediate and cost-free step of permitting recovery operators to use red flashing warning beacons.”

“The increase in breakdowns also comes at a time when the Government are removing the hard shoulder across much of the motorway network, further endangering motorists and recovery operators alike.”

The increase in breakdowns come as a total of 400 miles of the motorways in England have seen the hard shoulder converted into the All Lane Running (‘smart’) motorways. The emergency laybys are places 1.5 miles apart.

At the present time red X lights are places on overhead gantries to warn drivers about a broken-down vehicle, or an accident ahead that has closed the lane.

However, campaigners believe that the ‘Red X’ signals are not enough protection for drivers who breakdown and cannot make it to an emergency layby.

Recent Government statistics show a rate of non-compliance with red-X signals of 6%, which puts not only the passengers at risk, but also the recovery operators.

Goddard concluded: “This is not inevitable. It is the direct result of the Government’s decision to remove the hard shoulder – a short-sighted, cost-saving piece of policy making. The roll-out of All Lane Running Motorways should be halted until the government can prove they are safe.”

Roads Minister Michael Ellis recently announced that the Department for Transport would review the evidence for letting recovery operators use red flashing warning beacons, instead of amber ones.

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