No, that isn’t scaremongering or a misprint; it really is costing the British taxpayer close to £5 million each year to clear up the litter thrown out of car windows on the motorways and A-roads across the length and breadth of Britain.
According to statistics released by Highways England, that focused on the 4,300 miles of motorway and main roads in Britain, roadside pickers are currently collecting more than 330 sacks worth of rubbish on a daily basis; each of which is estimated to cost around £40 meaning that it works out at £4.8 million every year just to collect rubbish on the side of the road.
It is already a particularly frustrating time for many motorists who have found roadworks and repairs hard to come by in their local area – particularly in the case of potholes that have the potential to puncture tyres, damage bodywork and crack glass. So when you consider how much is being spent just to clear up the carriageways, it might make you think again before you throw your can or wrapper out of the window.
The same study from Highways England, that analysed data from 2013 through to the present day, showed that workers had collected more than 364,000 bags of rubbish from the M and A roads which, based on the same £40 per bag concept, totals a staggering £14.3 million in carriageway clean-ups over the last three years.
If you think that’s bad enough, you might need to fasten your seatbelt for another shocking figure. All of this – the 330 sacks each day, the £4.8 million each year and 4,300 miles of motorways and A-roads – is only 12 per cent of the total British road network. The rest is minor country roads that aren’t cleaned on a regular basis, and these are not included in the Highways England analysis.
Edmund King, the president of the AA, said in an interview with Auto Express magazine that those who throw litter from car windows are “a needless menace who cost the country millions, spoil our environment and put workers’ lives at risk.”
Project manager at Highways England, Michael Hoult, is also quoted as saying that “we’d much rather our contractors spent their time carrying out other essential maintenance work” including road repairs and fixing street lighting.
So the next time you feel your ribs rattling as you go through a pothole or sustain a punctured tyre, think about how the money used for carriageway clean-ups on British roadsides could have been used – if you’re a responsible motorist, you’ll do all you can to reduce the amount of litter thrown from cars on the British roads.
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