Ad closing in seconds....

We are being sacrificed to make drivers safer

Published: 08 July 2001

Updated: 19 November 2014

The current design of UK roadside barriers may protect drivers in a crash but they only serve to maim and kill riders, according to a leading professor of structural engineering.

Dr John Knapton is lending his weight to a campaign to get them changed and says: " If the Highways Agency maintains this barrier design, it is sacrificing motorcyclists for the benefit of other road users. "

David Walton is taking the Highways Agency to the European Court of Human Rights after his son Sam was killed when he hit a barrier on the A50 near Nottingham.

A coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death last November, but said he had seen better roadside barrier systems abroad than those used on the A50/A6 junction.

Now Walton is ready to take his case to Strasbourg with the backing of Dr Knapton, who lectures at Newcastle University.

The barriers – tension corrugated beams (TCB) – are pressed steel rails held up by slender posts, designed to protect motorists from impacts with bridges, signposts and dangerous banking.

Knapton, a respected academic and highway engineering consultant, accepts the TCB design is perfect for reducing kinetic energy when a car, lorry or van slams into one.

But he says the posts pose a serious danger to falling motorcyclists, concentrating the impact into one area.

Knapton initially wants to see TCBs covered with a cushioning material to absorb the impact and prevent the rider sliding under the beam.

After that, he would like to see them replaced with concrete barriers like those used widely on freeways in the U.S. They " catch " riders, soaking up kinetic energy, in a recessed area at the bottom of the barrier.

Dr Knapton added: " If it was ridiculously expensive to do the work, the Government would have a point for not making the barriers safer. But if work was done in the most dangerous places at first, it would cost only tens of thousands of pounds.

" We should make a stand to get the work done. There are growing numbers of bikers and this is the time to give it realistic thought. "

The Highways Agency has formed a working party into the standard of barriers following the Selby rail crash, where they failed to stop a Land Rover straying onto the line and ending up on the main East Coast line.

But a spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said: " The report into barrier standards will not be looking specifically at their effect in motorcycle accidents. "

The Highways Agency said the section of road where Sam Walton died met national design standards – but those are the standards many would like to see changed.

Walton said: " I’m wondering why nobody has taken this to the European Court of Human Rights before. I cannot understand why people have put up with it for so long. "

Bauer Media

Bauer Media Group consists of: Bauer Consumer Media Ltd, Company number: 01176085, Bauer Radio Ltd, Company Number: 1394141
Registered Office: Media House, Peterborough Business Park, Lynch Wood, Peterborough, PE2 6EA H Bauer Publishing,
Company Number: LP003328 Registered Office: Academic House, 24-28 Oval Road, London, NW1 7DT.
All registered in England and Wales. VAT no 918 5617 01
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd are authorised and regulated by the FCA(Ref No. 710067)