Spilled tires from heavy vehicles, construction materials, and vehicle parts are common sights on central reservations, grass edges, and the lanes of our busiest highways.
In most cases, these are incidental and through no fault of the driver, but they still pose a great risk to other motorists traveling at speeds up to 70 mph on highways.
The highway with the most debris has been revealed in a new study, and it’s the M6.
Drivers reported nearly 7,300 cases of debris on the road last year, more than any other major route in Britain.
We reveal the most common foreign items you’re likely to encounter on our fastest roads based on official figures.
The M6 has been named the motorway with the most debris that could be dangerous for drivers. We reveal what types of foreign items are most commonly found littering our fastest highways
This is in accordance with a Green Flag freedom of information request to National Highways, the Welsh government and Transport Scotland, the three agencies that oversee the safe operation of our fastest roads.
When asked how many cases of debris on a motorway drivers reported to them in 2022, the M6 topped the charts with 7,284 incidents.
Second on the list is M1 with 6,424 cases elevated to National Highways last year, while the M5 ranked third overall with 4,999 incidents.
Debris on highways and secondary roads can be particularly dangerous given the speed at which motorists travel.
Even small pieces of debris on the roads can cause significant damage to tires or windshields.
Of the 61,568 incidents on English roads, the most common types of debris reported were building materials, vehicle parts and tyres.
Dead animals -or ‘run overs’- were responsible for 3,149 incidents and sports equipment -usually sneakers and other types of footwear- for 348 incidents.
The M6 topped the charts with 7,284 road debris incidents reported to National Highways in 2022
|Classification||Obstruction Type||Incidents in 2022||Incidents in 2021||% increase/decrease YoY|
|1||Construction / Building Materials||12,244||13,648||-eleven%|
|5||Home / Gardening||4,328||4,731||-9%|
|6||Road works / Traffic management equipment||4,023||4,360||-8%|
|8||Trees / Vegetation||1,216||1,048||+14%|
|10||Sports / Leisure||348||426||-22%|
|Source: GreenFlag Freedom of Information request to National Highways, the Welsh Government and Transport Scotland|
In total, across England, Scotland and Wales, roadside debris was reported 68,410 times to the three organizations in 2022, representing an average of 192 incidents per day.
However, the cases are on the decline.
Incident volume last year was 8 percent lower than in 2021, when there were 74,290 debris reports.
In Scotland, there were 5,291 debris incidents on major roads operated by Transport Scotland in 2022, up from 7,899 in 2021.
The M8, which connects Glasgow and Edinburgh, had the highest number of debris reports in Scotland. This was followed by the M9, M90, A9, and A720.
There were 1,551 reports of debris on Welsh Government-managed roads in 2022, up from 1,905 the previous year.
Of these, the A55, also known as the North Wales Expressway, had the most cases of road debris last year. The A4232 was the second most dangerous road in Wales in terms of debris, followed by the A470, A48M and M4 respectively.
Third overall on the list of the most common types of road debris on a highway last year were tires, or tire parts, as shown here.
Katie Lomas, CEO of Green Flag, said roadside debris is an “unwanted distraction” for drivers, and if they are forced to take evasive action, such as changing lanes, braking or stopping without warning, they can often cause accidents.
“The data shows that incidents continue to be extremely common, highlighting the importance of drivers staying focused, driving at reasonable speeds, and being on high alert any time they are on a highway or major highway.
“If you see debris on a freeway, you should report it to the appropriate agency as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Drivers can report any debris they detect on highways and A-roads to the specific agency that manages the roads in the country where the incident occurs.
And motorists should not attempt to remove debris themselves.
If there is debris on a road as a result of an accident, it might be illegal for drivers to remove it from the scene.
Drivers should leave debris where it is, even if it is blocking the road for others, and report the incident to highway authorities or the police. More information and contact details of each agency is available online.
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