Those who drive on motorways – be warned! The Highways Agency is ready to rob you if you breakdown!

Whilst the racing at Guildford on Wednesday night was an awesome display of aggressive, attacking racing, the drive home for me was the worst nightmare I have ever had driving back from a cycle race in Britain and it was the Highways Agency who made the night so bad by robbing me of 192 quid.

I left Guildford and was hoping to get home by 1.30am. I expected issues with the roads because I know what the Highways Agency are like. But it was far far worse. On the M25, the displays were showing 40mph in places because of the workforce in the road but there was no workforce so the displays were confusing drivers and there were people weaving in and out of the slow moving cars abiding by the display speed. And HGVs too overtaking cars on the inside etc.

It got worse.

The M40 entry was blocked so one motorway unusable and the M1, the one I was going to use, was blocked so I had to take a different route. In hindsight I should have taken the A1 but even that was probably blocked by the Highways Agency ( National Highways ) somewhere. I took a road I know well, the A41 and all was good until I got to Aylesbury and tried to take the road that bypasses the town centre. That was blocked too so I had turn around and take a slower route through the town. I got to Milton Keynes eventually and back to the M1 and then disaster.

The Highways Agency had blocked three of the four lanes and it was more stop than go taking half an hour to do 800 yards at midnight. As I got to the 200 yards to go, the cones lined up to move traffic to the outside lane, and I could see a lot of steam coming from the engine bay. The car engine in the little Corsa was over heating. It doesn’t have a temperature gauge so there is no way to know when it is starting to over heat and not even a warning light came on. The amount of steam said a lot though and the traffic was still more stop than go.

I had already gone past one car that was stopped in the outside lane in the queue. I moved the car over to the start of the cones so I wasn’t holding anyone up and I could let the engine cool down. With only one lane past these roadworks, I didn’t want the engine to blow like what happened in a car I borrowed from my sister last year in an Aussie road trip. I wanted the traffic to be moving so the engine would hopefully keep cool once I restarted the engine.

More steam continued to come out of the engine and after half an hour or more, I went and filled the radiator with water. As I did, a truck pulled up from CMG with the car I had passed earlier on the back of it and a traffic officer in another vehicle said ‘he’ll move me to some one safe’. No-one said there was going to be a cost so I went along with it.

If the engine had blown, I would have called the AA but no, the Highways Agency don’t give a monkey about people. The lane I was in was supposed live but I was right at the start of the cones moving inwards. So it was a dead lane!

It shows just how bad these so called smart motorways are. No hard shoulder to park on if you can’t get to one of these emergency stops and wait for proper help.

It wasn’t until we’d gone 20 miles or so to Northampton with the Corsa on the truck, that the driver of the truck said something about the cost (£192). So I had been robbed because if he had said that before he put the car on the truck, I would have said no and taken the chance of driving through the road works which as it happens, was being dismantled and the traffic was moving past it, slow but much quicker than the queue that caused the over heating.

I was angry and when he went to give me his phone to pay, I said no, I’m deaf, I have no hearing aid on me (buried in the car somewhere amongst the camera equipment) and I walked away to calm down. He then started to push my car back onto his truck and refused to give me the keys to the Corsa! He was forcing me to pay for the movement of my car for 20 miles there and then. 192 quid is a lot of money to me and most of my budget for this month is already gone.

I paid it reluctantly on a credit card and then drove the car 200km back home. No problems even when I had other road works where the traffic was slow moving but at least was moving.

I finally got home at 5am, three and a half hours later than I was due home. It makes going to night events in the Corsa something I will have to think twice about due to the National Highways highway robbery attitude. They are funded by our taxes are they not? They caused the car to overheat with their severe road works and no, I couldn’t switch the engine off and wait in ther queue as it was stop for 20 seconds, move 50 feet, stop again and repeat.

The car goes back to the garage tomorrow, more expense, for them to empty the water and refill the radiator and check the engine before my next road trip to a bike race on Saturday. Not been a good week as I had bad news from the doctor too this week but the attitude of the Highways Agency at not only making driving a nightmare at night and day time too but also quick to take your money without you knowing they are going to do that.

So, if your car does stop in a live lane on these so called smart motorways with no hard shoulder, and they ( National Highways ) put it on a truck whether you want that or not, and you will get stung with a big charge for a little journey. They don’t care about you, just your money – Highway robbers…


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