Sofas, mattresses and a 40ft mast - the shed-loads on the region's busiest roads


June 30, 2020

A sofa, a king size mattress and bikes – all items you’d expect to find in a home…. except these were all found on the side of some of the country’s busiest roads. 

Highways England traffic officers have revealed some of the unusual loads they've come across and the danger they'e caused after falling onto the motorway.

More than 46,000 items were found on England’s motorways and major A roads over just ten months, 9,271 of which were in the North West. Highways England traffic officers in the region have dealt with everything from a ship’s mast and double-glazed door to windows and garden sheds.

With the summer staycation fast approaching, there will be many more drivers with loads such as bikes and roof boxes strapped to their vehicles. So today Highways England is urging all drivers from our region to make sure their loads are safely secured before they set off.

Apart from leaving the owners out of pocket and maybe without a tent for their camping trip, these items pose a big safety risk for other people on the road including the traffic officers who help clear them up. 

Highways England Traffic Officers experience first-hand the range of items found on England’s motorways and the impact they can have on drivers. 

On Road Team Manager Glenn Lamont who patrols roads in Cumbria said: “I personally have dealt with roof boxes, bicycles, sofas, LGV trailer roofs, a domestic oil tank and many other weird objects. 

“The most unusual item I came across was a 40ft mast off a sailing ship. It was at an angle across two lanes. We never found the owner. 

“Often people buy items on social media market places and then the buyer turns up to collect it in a small car, with no trailer, and simply ties it to the roof hoping for the best. What could go wrong?  

“But shed loads can close a road for several hours as well as putting people at risk. So our advice is simple: Secure your load before you set out. It could prevent an accident and save lives.” 

 Another On Road Team Manager Rob Frost, who is based in South Yorkshire, said:  

 “We have had fence panels, a shed, tools, tool boxes, motorcycle bags and top boxes – the whole contents of one family’s top box was spread all over three lanes of the M62 as they were returning from holiday.”

Traffic officers also had to deal with a steel chute from a cement mixer lorry on the M6 in Cumbria. Highways England figures show that there were almost 6,000 items on the carriageway of the M6 between June 2019 and April 2020. 

The most items dropped on motorways were building or construction materials. Between June 2019 and April this year there were 2,222 incidents of building/construction items obstructing major roads. Meanwhile, there were 1,430 incidents of vehicle parts or accessories found over the same period and 794 household or garden items.

Journey planning advice, including making sure vehicles are ready for the road, can be found here: https://www.think.gov.uk/campaign/vehicle-safety-checks/

Advice on securing loads is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/load-securing-vehicle-operator-guidance