These are just some of the comments given to Police Officers on a regular basis when road users are confronted with road closure signage.
Following several serious and fatal collisions on the roads of North Wales over recent weeks, a number of motorists continue to drive or attempt to drive past road closure signs.
The latest incident happened in Bala at the scene of a serious road traffic collision last weekend when an officer was confronted by a man driving a vehicle who had ignored the ‘road closed’ sign. It was explained to him that a serious collision had occurred and the road was closed to allow emergency service access. He then continued to debate with the officer why he needed to continue on his way and went so far as to ask if he could drive on the grass.
Another driver who was towing a caravan commented that he must continue on his journey having travelled through the road closure signs because ‘he couldn’t turn the caravan around.’ Officers then had to help him unhitch his caravan and turn it around to allow him to travel via another route, and it was advised that maybe he shouldn’t be towing a caravan if he could only travel in one direction.
“At serious and fatal road traffic collisions road closures, diversions and signage are put in place for a reason, they’re not there for decoration,” said Sergeant Jason Diamond of North Wales Police’ Roads Policing Unit.
“If the roads are closed, this must not be ignored. Whilst you may feel a road closure is inconvenient, being reported for driving offences is probably worse.
“I’m urging all road users - whether HGV drivers, car driver, motorcyclists, pedal cyclists or pedestrians to please obey the ‘road closed’ signs when placed by our colleagues from the Highways Department to inform of a road closure due to a road traffic collision.
“The signs are placed on the road lawfully as per the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, and the sole intention is to provide as much advanced warning of a closure as is possible.
“The signs are usually placed in the lane that is headed toward the scene of a collision and not necessarily across the whole of the road, as the lane headed away from the scene is to allow traffic to do exactly that…move away from it. Stating that the cones were not all the way across the road is not a sufficient excuse or a defence to failing to comply with a traffic sign (which can also lead to prosecution).
“I completely understand that it can be frustrating for the emergency services to close the road for long periods of time, however this only happens in the most serious of collisions.
“In the first instance it will be for the medical emergency that exists, and all efforts will be placed into ensuring any casualties are given the best possible care, however long it takes. Thereafter there is a detailed evidential process that takes place to ensure that we provide those involved, and their families, with the best possible service to determine the cause of the collision. The recovery of the vehicles is also an evidential process. The clean up afterwards, is to ensure the road is safe for continued use.
“We have limited resources available to us at these scenes. We do not have sufficient Police Officers/Highways Officers to stand at the closures giving directions. When we are faced with road users having failed to comply with the traffic signs, and we spend more time trying to explain why the road is closed, for how long and where the alternative routes are, it detracts us from our main priorities and causes unnecessary delays in actually reopening the road.
Sergeant Diamond added: “I consider it wholly unacceptable to attend the scene and asking whether ‘squeezing’ past on the grass is feasible and/or become abusive with both my colleagues and Highways Officials when they are turned around having past the road closed signage.
“In the hope that it never is – please think that if this was you or a member of your friends or family, would you prefer the onus being on opening the road or for us to complete our work as diligently as possible?
“I’d also politely suggest that whilst we are in the 21st century and technology is abundant, there are still rural areas with limited mobile phone signal, so if you’re planning a trip to a rural area, think of having a ‘back up’ paper map to assist with alternative routing.
“Unfortunately, we are seeing far too many serious collisions on our road network and the best way for us to avoid the need to close the roads is for the motoring public to share the roads sensibly with due consideration for each other and drive/ride safely.
“I understand that a vast majority of road users do adhere to the signs and I whilst I apologise for the delays and diversions, I also thank them for their cooperation and patience.”