Call me back

When Road Surface Repairs Can Become Deadly Deathtraps

Traffic cones at roadworks
4th September 2013

In July, a 63 year old motorist lost his life after colliding with three motorbikes during a pile-up on the M6 near Staffordshire. Police said the accident was caused by a tyre blow-out on a HGV and traffic slowed down to avoid tyre debris, which had scattered across the road. In that particular incident, the three motorcyclists and a pillion passenger survived with serious, but not life-threatening injuries.

A significant number of motorbike accident claims relate to riders involved with avoiding the different types of debris that can be left on the highway, from blown out tyre tread, dead birds or small animals, road surfaces seriously disrupted by potholes, and lorry load spillage, or most commonly of all, oil and diesel. The Department of Transport, state that twice the number of motorcyclists will probably be involved in a fatal or serious accident as a result of oil and diesel on the road, than when ice is present.

Accident aftermath…

Motorcyclists are more vulnerable to suffering a fatal accident or life-changing injury when involved in negotiating unexpected debris or spillage on roads and motorways. In a number of cases, road debris can be encountered in the aftermath, hours or even days following a previous accident, where not all the debris has been removed. If an accident has occurred and oil-absorbing granules have been laid down, they may also not be cleaned up afterwards.

However, another type of motorbike accident claim, which has become more evident is linked to the increasing use by highway authorities of laying ‘shellgrip’ over a layer of road tar.

Road surfacing materials…

“Shellgrip” is a cold–applied process using epoxy resin, or increasingly, a polyurethane, thermosetting resin. Supplied and laid as separate components, when mixed together, a chemical reaction produces heat and the surface sets hard after several hours.

However, “shellgrip” is a term often used to describe all manner of high friction surfacing and similar named materials. One economic method of road surfacing just sees the sprinkling of materials over a layer of tar with the assumption that most of the excess will be compacted into the surface by vehicle tyres as they pass over that section of the road.

Inevitably, soon after being laid, the uppermost layers of loose material are thrown up and scattered across the carriageway by vehicle tyres. Dangerous by themselves, if combined with dirt and oil spillage, the resultant potent mix is a deadly deathtrap in waiting for a single tyre to encounter.

In some cases, it may not be too difficult to ascertain the source of the scattered road surface debris, especially if recently laid by local council or a highway authority.