Highway Fires – lack of whose maintenance?

Fire Service statistics indicate 300 cars a day catch fire in the UK – over 100,000 / annum. The number will include arson.

A fire on our highways often results in a resurfacing claim of £15,000+ . Highways England do not believe that ‘in the ordinary course of events, a properly maintained vehicle would spontaneously catch fire with no explanation; it could happen, but it is more likely than not that, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, poor maintenance would be the most likely cause’. They will look to the driver, fleet or their insurer for recovery.

But whose fault is the fire, who failed to maintain what? Assuming Highways England vehicles are properly kept, there must be another reason why their HETO Landrover spontaneously burst into flames 03/2018 on the M62 – what evidence is there to the contrary?

In February 2016, Kier Highways Ltd. explained, with regard to litter / debris

‘… there’s a big push on it. But again, you know, we have to somehow pay for it out of somewhere, ’cause someone was saying the other day actually, ‘Well we want you to go and do more litter picks,’ and we were like, ‘With what money? How do you think we are going to pay for this?


‘… debris is a direct consequence of this zero carriageway crossing thing, because the guys that work on the networks get very frustrated with it because they feel that they should still be allowed to cross the carriageway.

The point being made was , due to the zero-carriageway crossing policy, to litter / debris-pick on a central carriageway the contractor now had to install traffic management (TM) and this costs money – so it was not done, or undertaken less often. The further irony is that it appears on occasions the debris that may have caused an incident is only picked after and because of the incident!

If Highways England do not ensure our roads are cleared of litter and debris, a known cause of damage and accidents, how are they not applying a double standard as to what they expect drivers to do in maintaining their vehicles?

As for the HETO fire, what was the cause, will it be determined? It appears Highways England still have little information – WhatDoTheyKnow – this despite the public purse now being about £20,000 worse off due to the destruction of Land Rover Discovery Gs Sdv6 Auto.  DU63KSJ:

Approx. Valuation
New £38,825
Forecourt £22,700
Private Sale £20,830 – this will be affected by the mileage – which is understandably high 26 September 2017 MoT 177,414 miles – an increase of about 50,000 on the preceding year.

The vehicle failed an MoT for an inability to clean the windscreen properly (was the vehicle driven to the test centre 09/2017 and who failed to keep the screen clean?), the failure advises:

• Nearside Windscreen wiper does not clear the windscreen effectively (8.2.2)
• Nearside Front Lower Suspension arm rubber bush deteriorated resulting in excessive movement Rear bush. (2.4.G.2)

It is also noted that whilst the above was attended to enable a MoT pass, it does not appear the advisory notices were addressed as they appear on the fail and pass:

• Offside Front Lower Suspension arm rubber bush deteriorated but not resulting in excessive movement Rear bush. (2.4.G.2)
• Nearside Front headlamp assembly feels slightly loose.

Possibly the above did not give rise to the fire but what was the cost of the recovery reinstating the road surface; another £20,000?

2019 – more recently, Highways England have taken to treating vehicles that have failed an MoT in their history as second class.  It maters not that the vehicle subsequently passed a test, it is blighted and the fail will be forever held against it by Highways England – given the above, this appears to be double standards!

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