I was interested to read the BBC investigation into drivers who have been hit with large bills following minor incidents on motorways after companies, contracted by the Highways Agency, have been called out to clean up after accidents.

The report focused on Sheila Kaur-Patel, who works as a BBC production manager. She was shocked when she received an invoice for £3,000 for damage she had allegedly caused during a motorway incident.

According to the BBC website the incident took place almost three months earlier.

She had skidded across the M6 after unexpectedly hitting some liquid on the surface and ended up facing the wrong way on the hard shoulder.

Amey LG Limited told Sheila that the bill she received was for inspection work carried out after she left the scene.

The investigation has led to more and more drivers saying that they have also received hefty charges from contractors for work they knew nothing about.

The law does allow drivers to be charged when they are at fault due to careless driving or a poorly maintained vehicle, but in response, The Highways Agency said it expects its service providers to have a clear and fair process in place and to act responsibly when dealing with claims.

This certainly opens up a new can of worms when it comes to driver accountability for minor incidents.

If the situation arises of motorists believing they could be charged for a minor incident, I can see drivers wanting to either clear up the damage themselves or wait to inspect what level of work is carried out – after all, if you’re going to pay for it, it’s only reasonable to see what you get for your money!

In the words of Sheila Kaur-Patel, “I would have turned my car around myself if I knew I was going to get charged almost £3,000.”

Commentators have however said that because of the difficulties of actually getting members of the public to pay, some bills aren’t pursued if the recipient puts up a fight.

But what if the driver works for a company, I wonder?

Will their employer receive an invoice instead if contractors believe it may be easier to get a commercial body to cough up rather than an individual?

Some companies already employ their own accident investigators. Will this new activity cause firms to send out someone after every incident, however minor, to oversee the work being done? Surely not.

I sincerely hope we’re not going to see a growing trend for this, because it will just soak up even more time and cost for companies and their at-work drivers, which they really do not need.

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