At Highways England, our ambition is that no one should be harmed while working or traveling on our network. To achieve this, we’re improving the safety of our roads through the way we design and build our schemes, how we maintain the network to a high standard, and how we manage traffic to keep our country connected. Our roads are among the safest in the world, but to reach our aim, we need to limit disruption and closures as much as possible.
When we look at where the most significant changes can be made to reduce incidents on our roads and improve safety, it’s clear that diesel spillages are something we should be focusing on. The effect on our network is significant in these incidents, as are the costs for commercial vehicle drivers and fleet operators.
When there is a diesel spillage on the Strategic Road Network (SRN) it has a financial, social, environmental and economic impact. The repercussions affect those directly involved, other drivers and the UK economy.
In 2018, Highways England recorded 314 diesel spillages involving HGVs, causing a range of events including journey time delays, risk to life and environmental issues. The cleaning up of diesel spillages is expensive and time consuming. Diesel exposure to the road surface for approximately 120 minutes has been shown to result in significant damage. This can cause further future disruption to the network with repair work to the carriageway and associated costs.
Many operators who’ve not had an involvement in diesel spillage incidents are not fully aware of the cost/damage and have not invested in the diesel spillage protection or equipped their vehicles to have spill kits on board.
The following are four real examples of the type of incident that occur on the SRN on a regular basis.