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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: