Birmingham & Black Country

'Screaming' motorway traffic cones to protect workers

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Media captionThe in-built alarm "screams" when the cone is struck, alerting workers to any possible danger

"Screaming" traffic cones are to be used on motorways across England to protect road crews.

The cones are fitted with an alarm that "will literally scream" when the cone is struck, the Highways Agency said.

The yellow-topped, "lighthouse" style wailers alert road workers to the danger of vehicles coming too close.

The agency said they will mainly be used on motorways, meaning students or other traditional cone nemeses are likely to be kept at bay.

The cones were unveiled by the agency near Perry Barr in Birmingham.

"We will only use them at certain localities, such as motorways or critical road works," a spokesman said.

"We wouldn't expect people to be able to get close to them.

"Local authorities may use them for pothole repairs or similar, but they are still being rolled out."

'Crew alarms'

A spokesman from manufacturers Intellicone said "an ordinary orange cone lantern" is placed on a red and white cone and when they are struck it is picked up by a yellow "portable site alarm" sensor.

This transmits to "crew alarms" where road workers are operating to alert them to the potential danger.

The firm said there could be an unlimited number of alarms and they transmit "as far as you like".

The agency said eight workers had been killed in the last three years while maintaining England's road network.

Highways Agency spokesman Wayne Norris said: "We've had incidents where the gateman, who stands at the head of a closure to say that a stretch is closed, has been physically and verbally abused.

Image caption The Highways Agency said eight people had been killed in three years while working on the roads

"The guys are only doing their job so having these sensors, it reduces the risk of serious injury for road workers."

Amey road worker Dale Butler, from Darlaston in the West Midlands, said he was in a lorry on the M6 northbound carrying out repairs on the hard shoulder when a motorist crashed into him.

The driver came across into lane one which was closed off and on to the hard shoulder.

"He hit the back of the lorry pushing the back of the lorry into the air as the car went under it," Mr Butler said.

"I was in the lorry, I had a bit of whiplash and [the] four other guys [who] were working at the side of the lorry they had back injuries, spleen injuries and head injuries."

Wayne Leek, 43, a road worker for 15 years, said: "That extra couple of seconds can give you a lot more chance to move out of the way, nearer to the verge, that extra couple of seconds can save you life."

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