Expect Respect - Birmingham roadworkers share their stories in a plea to end abuse

Over the next five weeks we will be sharing personal stories from roadworkers about the abuse they face and how they are asking for more consideration from the public.

Darren's story

Darren’s job is to keep the highways network safe for both road users 
and pedestrians. Abusive members of the public prevent him from doing 
his job properly. 

This is his story. 

“We were called out to remove items that were placed on the footway 
illegally. We removed the items and placed them in the truck. Some 
people then started to jump all over our truck and tried to take the items 
while hurling abuse at me and my colleagues. 

“The signs had to be removed to keep the footway clear. There was a 
school close by so access needs to be maintained for people, especially 
those with wheelchairs and pushchairs. 

“We’re just there to do a job and keep the highways safe.” 

Darren has experienced many more situations like this. 

“Once we had to take pictures of a footway that needed repairing. We 
needed to take the pictures to an inspector so we could get it fixed. One 
lad came out of his house who called his mates and they all blocked us in 
the street. 

“We had nowhere to go and they wouldn’t let us through. It’s scary and it’s 
something we do face regularly.” 

This blog was updated on 14 July 2023


Kieran's story

Kieran went to work one day and was told by a member of the public 
that his head would be chopped off if he didn’t move out of the way. 

This is his story. 

Kieran is a highways contracts coordinator in Birmingham and he works 
all over the city. 

He said: “We had one guy who was getting aggressive at the closure. He 
got out of his van and approached me with that looked like an electric 

“He shouted, 'If you don’t open the road I’m going to chop your head off', 
and he came right up to my face and put the blade to my head.

“You don’t expect to come to work and have to deal with that kind of 
thing. It shook me up."

Kieran believes if the general public understood why roads needed to be 
closed, they would be more understanding. 

“A lot of the time, the public think we’ve just decided ourselves to close the 
road there and then and we haven’t. We are there to set up the site before 
works start. A road closure is as much about safety for the road user as 
well as the road worker, so to be getting abuse for that is disgusting.” 

This blog was updated on 6 July 2023


Cherelle's story

Cherelle is asking road users to be patient and calm when they 
encounter roadworks. 

This is her story. 

Cherelle is three months into her role as a traffic management operative 
and already she has been verbally abused by angry motorists. 

“I would like people to understand that we are not there to be in their 
way. We are there to keep people safe and keep the roads safe. We’re 
not against you, we are with you, to support you and look after you,” said 

Cherelle has been verbally abused by drivers demanding to get through 
a road closure when the road was being tarmacked. 

She added: “I tried to explain to the driver that he couldn’t get through as 
the tarmac trucks were in the way. He didn’t listen and went on a bit of 
rampage. I tried to diffuse the situation, and found a way of getting him 
through, but it wasn’t easy. 

“The language he used towards me wasn’t very nice. I was upset and feel 
like they only spoke to me like that because of the uniform I wear. 
“People just need to have some patience and be calm.”

This blog was updated on 29 June 2023


Aaron's story

Aaron would like to go to work each day without being homophobically 

This is his story.

Aaron is relatively new to the highways industry. He has spent the last 
two years working as a lead traffic management operative and he really
enjoys it. This is despite the fact he is frequently on the receiving end of 
vile slurs. 

“It doesn’t feel very nice at all to be verbally abused. I feel like I have 
been targeted,” said Aaron.

Aaron’s day-to-day duties include briefing a team of operatives and 
making sure his site is safe for works to take place. He can be working 
on any type of works that require a full road closure. 

“A delivery driver from a well-known company was trying to get to some 
houses just past where our workers were. He wasn’t happy and he was 
verbally abusive towards me. I tried to diffuse the situation and explain 
that there was a fallen tree in the middle of the road. 

“He started swearing and shouting homophobic abuse at myself and my 
colleague. I felt like I had been targeted. The homophobic comments hit 
me hard. 

 “Thankfully I was able to walk away and I feel like I was the better person 
for doing that. As long as everybody in the team was safe, that was my 
main priority.”

This post was updated on 22 June 2023.


Paul's story

Paul is calling on members of the public to respect roadworkers. 

This is his story.

Paul is a supervisor and with a long history of working within 
highways, he has dealt with many volatile situations.

“The people I work with are not confrontational people. They are 
good people there to do a job that they have been instructed to do. 
Yet they have been threatened with machetes, shot at, driven at, 
had things thrown at them.

“And what for? Just because somebody wants to drive down the 
road that has to be closed for safety reasons?”

Paul, is urging road users to remember that road workers have a job 
to do and that the barriers, cones and signs in place are there for 
the safety of road users as well as those working. 

“People don’t seem to realise that the traffic management in place, 
is there for not just the safety of the roadworker, but for the road 
user too. We’ve had people throw pedestrian barriers out of the way 
to try and get through a road closure. Somebody can get seriously 

“I would like the general public to respect people that work on the 
roads. Don’t abuse them, verbally or physically. If a road user has 
an issue or concern, talk to us like human beings.”

This blog was posted on 16 June 2023.

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