January 12, 2007

Diesel spills at Warwick University seriously injure motorcyclists

A member of staff at Warwick recently became a small fraction in a terrible statistic. The RAC Foundation estimate that diesel spills contribute significantly to around 6000 serious injuries and fatalities each year. Diesel kills. In the case of our motorcycling colleague, it may have been responsible for many broken bones and much pain. And yet our roads are still frequently made lethal by poorly maintained and overfilled commercial vehicles. Is this a problem at Warwick? Oh yes. My experience is that Warwick has a very serious problem, much worse than even Central London.

Here is a photo of a recent spill. It ran for half the distance of the University Road, covering much of one lane. I traced the spill back to a small group of builders’ vehicles parked at theback of Coventry House (old Senate House).

Diesel at Warwick 1

Whenever it rains, the roads in this area are awash with diesel. Last year a slick covered half of the width of the road, running at least from University Road to Kenilworth, following (here’s a clue) the bus route.

As our motorcycling friend recently discovered, diesel on wet tarmac reduces grip dramatically. The criminal negligence of commercial vehicle operators (and it is illegal) injures and kills many riders.

Here’s another photo:

Diesel at Warwick 2

This is not a rare occurrence, it is constant. A few things that various responsible authorities need to be aware of:

  1. spilling diesel onto the highway is a road traffic offence;
  2. vehicles that spill diesel due to a fault are illegal;
  3. owners of roads open to the public on which diesel spills occur are liable for injuries that happen as a result of spills not being cleared;
  4. local councils or the Highways Agency must clear spills on roads for which they are responsible.

As the slogan says:


- 5 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. I noticed it the other day and was wondering how much must be spilled to create such a mess. Although your photos make it quite obvious, they don’t even do it justice: the whole road down from Coventry House (Senate House) was covered with it! I didn’t know it was hazardous too (well, apart from possibly to the environment).

    12 Jan 2007, 16:48

  2. Robert O'Toole

    Hi Thorwald

    It’s not just hazardous to bikes. Cars will also slide on it, but the drivers usually don’t realise that the slide is caused by diesel.

    It doesn’t take much to create a slick on a wet road, just a few drops will spread across it quickly. However, the kinds of slick that we are seeing around here are obviously caused by long and continuous leaks.

    15 Jan 2007, 08:38

  3. steve@killspills.org.uk

    My name is Stephen Edwards and I lead the anti diesel spill pressure group KillSpills. We have been campaigning since 2003 to stop diesel spills.

    Diesel spills are dangerous, they kill people, bikers and drivers alike. Come and support us, and lets make our roads safe.


    KillSpills event 26.05.07 Donington Park & Bikefest UK

    Over the past three years, the killSpills rallies have proven to be very successful. In 2006 we officially had 5,250 riders joining us on our annual ride to Number 10 and Parliament . Given the increase in riders joining the rally each year, it is feasible that in 2007, we could have in excess of 10,000 bikes. It is clear that the rally can not continue in its present form without significant cost implications. We must ask ourselves, would this level of investment deliver safer roads? Furthermore, would another rally, in its present form, lobbying Government, add to the campaign or just alienate politicians’?

    KillSpills believe, that to continue to do in 2007 what we have done over the past three years would provide little benefit to the campaign and motorcycle safety. The lack of interest shown by the general press on the subject has been disappointing. Hence the KillSpills 2007 rally will be taking our message to the national press.

    Once we have handed in our fourth annual report on the dangers of diesel spills to the Prime Minister, copies of the report will be presented to various TV News Stations and Fleet Street.

    For 2007, KillSpills proposes to hold a completely different event. This will take place on the 26th May at Donington Park race circuit. This date and venue coincides with Future Publishing’s Bikefest UK event (details are available from www.bikefestuk.com ).

    We aim to show the media and public alike the strength of support that we have for our campaign to reduce diesel spills. We are hoping that past and present winners of the KillSpills / BMF Award for “Achievement in reducing diesel spills” will be represented, as well as those Companies who have been “Commended” by KillSpills and the manufacturers of anti diesel spill/clean up products.

    In summary, the KillSpills 2007 rally at Donington Park will involve the following:

    (I) KillSpills dedicated area with sponsors, supporters, and the manufacturers of diesel spill products;
    (II) The annual KillSpills / BMF Award for “Achievement in reducing diesel spills”
    (III) A world record attempt for the most bikes riding around Donnington Park;
    (IV) Police escorted ride down the M1 from Donington to Number 10 Downing Street TV News stations .

    The world record attempt will take place at Noon and we are expecting around 7,000 bikes to take part. Future are in discussions with the Guinness Book of Records who will hopefully record the event. The world record attempt should attract the press and provide some coverage of the campaign.

    The ride to London (as opposed to the world record attempt) will involve a Police escorted ride for 617 (the number of all diesel related KSI [killed and seriously injured] accidents from 2000 to 2005) bikes down the M1. Given the distance involved and the fact that the Metropolitan Police will be operating outside their area of jurisdiction, KillSpills will have to pay for the officers and their bikes. Furthermore As you can imagine, this type of ride will need a lot of organising and as places are limited, riders will have to pre-register their commitment to join the rally to London.

    The spectacle of 617 bikes riding down the M1 with a Police escort, closing the motorway junctions as we ride past, should attract some media interest. Furthermore, by taking the rally to the TV news stations and Fleet Street, this too in turn should attract media attention for the campaign.

    This years event will be a great day and I hope that you can join us at Donington Park for our World Record Attempt and that some of you will agree in advance to join in the run to London.

    17 Jan 2007, 16:06

  4. Andrew Campbell

    I fully support the eradication of spills from the roads. I have acted for dozens of diesel spill victims in my capacity as a motorcycle lawyer. Such spills are entirely preventable. Please support Stephen’s Kill Spills campaign and attend Donington on 26 May 2007.

    Andrew Campbell, Head of Motorcycle Law Unit, Withy King Solicitors

    20 Apr 2007, 15:23

  5. Matthew Simpkin

    I have just come off my immaculate Suzuki SV650 1.5 miles from home. (23/06/07) To me the bike looks written off and is worth around £1800-00. No one seems to be interesed. The council took over two hours to get on the scene of the accident and spread some building sand around!!!!!! Pathetic, I am very lucky to walk away from the Road Traffic Accident. Sitting in my front room now with a bag of peas on my left knee.
    I ride a bike twelve months of the year and see diesel week in week out all over the road surface. I will now have a fight with my insurance company. Just what I need.

    23 Jun 2007, 14:34

Add a comment

You are not allowed to comment on this entry as it has restricted commenting permissions.