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Motorway Litter Louts That Risk Lives Targeted By New Campaign

How motorway litter risks lives, the wider implications and the cost of clear up

North West motorway litter fills 40,000 sacks in 2016

Selfish motorists that blight the motorway network by throwing litter from cars risk lives, waste tax payer money and injure wildlife, a Highways England campaign says. In the North West throughout 2016, 40,000 sacks of litter were collected – at a cost of £40 each - which equated to 108 sacks for each mile of motorway.

The campaign has a simple message for people that cannot be bothered to recycle. Motorway signs in the North West state: “Workers’ lives are put at risk picking your litter”. Most notably, they might be hit by vehicles at high speed. Paul Cooper, 46, from Bolton, has been maintaining the network for 19 years. He revealed:

“There’s always an element of risk when you’re working on the network as you’re near traffic. My message, therefore, to drivers is please stop dropping litter and take it home with you instead.”

“I think most drivers who sling litter out their windows don’t really think about what they’re doing - and that someone like me has to come along and clear up.”

“It tends to be worst on slip roads or where there’s standing traffic. That’s when drivers seem to have a clear out”, Mr Cooper added.

Innocent motorists put at risk

Motorway litter louts put other motorists at risk, too. Items might land on the carriageway rather than a verge, for example. Drivers might then instinctively swerve across the path of traffic to miss them. Alternatively, litter might land on their windscreens and make it harder to see. Further issues caused by offenders include:

  • Animals climb inside plastic bags then suffocate, The Royal Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals confirmed
  • Litter blocks drains which increases the risk of flooding
  • Cigarette butts raise the likelihood of fire
  • Litter looks unsightly
  • Non-biodegradable items blight the landscape long term

Highways England calls for responsible behaviour

Paul Elliott, Highways England Service Delivery Team Leader, said: “Our teams of workers do a fantastic job removing litter from motorways every year, but we’d much rather they were able to spend more of their time carrying out maintenance work.”

“Litter has to be collected close to fast moving traffic – putting our workers at risk – and lane closures are often needed which causes needless disruption to drivers.”

“We’ll have extra patrols out on the network over next few weeks to target areas where litter regularly builds up. We’re also encouraging drivers to do their bit by saving their litter for the bin”, Mr Elliott concluded.