THE HIGHWAYS Agency this week said engineers were ignoring its recent guidelines requiring that at least two alternative products be considered before safety fencing is installed on trunk roads.
But industry sources denied that the guidance - passed down to project managers to ensure that both wire rope safety fences and tension corrugated beam fences are costed in tender documents - was a threat to the safety of motorists.
The Highways Agency comments came in response to claims from supporters of wire rope safety fencing that it was being overlooked by engineers despite being cheaper and safer than TSB.
Cars and particularly lorries were also less likely to break through wire fencing, they claimed. Recent trunk road schemes which opted for TCBs include the M5 Junction 11A-13, M50 J1, M20 J3-5 and M27 J4-5.
An Agency spokesman said: 'Wire rope and corrugated steel offer the same level of security because they have the same deflection of impact. The Agency treats them as equivalent.' In practice, it was therefore left to a consultant to make a decision on the fencing, they added. The guidance is intended to prevent engineers sticking solely to what they know.However, Durham County Council's David Battensby, who has designed schemes for the Highways Agency, said since the Agency issued its guidance wire fences were being erected all over the Durham area.
'For impact on cars, wire rope safety fencing performs superbly. It's got to be safer and it takes less time and money to maintain.'
His comments were backed by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents which said: 'RoSPA welcomes the fact that in Britain, WRSF must be specified on all highway contracts as a safety fencing consideration.'