Crash, bang, wallet - motorists charged for motorway crashes
A crash is unpleasant at the best of times but now motorists are saying they're being charged for them!
The BBC has discovered drivers are being issued with hefty bills from Highways Agency contractors when they have an accident on a motorway.
Shelia Kaur-Patel told the BBC she was invoiced £3,000 for alleged damage to the M6 motorway. Kaur-Patel's car skidded across the carriageway and spun around leading to the police closing the road for a matter of minutes.
But now she's being billed by Amey LG Limited – which works on behalf of the Highways Agency – for the hire of a 7.5-tonne tipper truck, repairs to rails and nearly £1,900 for closing the hard shoulder.
Kaur-Patel said she had "no idea" where the charges came from.
The BBC has found the practice to be wide-spread, and when drivers challenge the bills, they are normally reduced or not pursued.
The Highways Agency has said it is necessary to charge motorists for cleaning up roads after an accident, but admitted there is a lack of transparency about who is liable to pay and for how much.
The news has outraged the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM). Their director of policy and research, Neil Greig, told Autoblog: "The charges for clean ups is a real mess – this could have been a positive story aimed at informing drivers that their bad driving has consequences.
"The majority of delays on our motorway network are caused by crashes and breakdowns, and knowing you will be charged might have helped drivers to concentrate on safer driving.
"Instead we now have a situation where drivers are being charged exorbitant fees for incidents which may not have been totally their fault.
"If these charges are going to be pursued they must be fair and transparent and drivers must have a right of appeal."
The IAM is concerned drivers will be now tempted not to call for help should they have an accident leading to further incidents.
Greig added: "The Highways Agency should work urgently to clarify its policy and make sure drivers can summon assistance without fear of a hidden bill days later."