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What do 40 beds, 96 chairs, 49 cushions and 163 mattresses have in common?

They all fell off vehicles and onto England’s motorways, where they were found by Highways England traffic officers.

The list of flying furniture also includes 52 sofas and 17 tables.

Badly secured items that fall onto busy, high-speed roads are a danger that causes delays and even collisions. The average incident like this takes 20 minutes to clear up, often disrupting other road users.

In a bid to keep the roads clear of domestic debris, Highways England has launched a campaign to encourage drivers with bulky items to make sure they are properly secure.

The message is simple: let’s all get home in one piece.

Highways England project manager Amelia Kirwan said:

“We want all drivers and their items to get home in one piece. If you’re buying or moving furniture this weekend, use proper straps that are strong enough for the job. Don’t risk losing your stuff, and causing other drivers to become delayed, injured or worse.

“Our traffic officers picked up around 600 items such as mattresses, sofas and chairs during a nine month period. So before you set off, check your load is secure and your view is clear of obstructions.”

Research for Highways England, which is responsible for England’s motorways and major A-roads, found that nearly 9 out of 10 cars observed did not have any method of securing heavy loads inside a vehicle. If the driver stopped or changed direction suddenly, this creates a serious risk that a load can be thrown forward through the windscreen or hit vehicle occupants.

‘Let’s all get home in one piece’ is one of a number of Highways England safety warnings for drivers.

Drivers should also do a quick series of checks before setting off. Almost half of all breakdowns are caused by simple mechanical problems that could be avoided by simply checking fuel levels, tyres, engine oil, water and lights.

A few minutes spent planning journeys and checking road conditions before setting off can also save time and frustration later.

Drivers can get live traffic information on Highways England’s website at www.highways.gov.uk/traffic or via a phone or mobile device at m.highways.gov.uk.

Travel information is also available by phone from the Highways England Customer Contact Centre on 0300 123 5000, and updates are provided via Twitter at www.highways.gov.uk/twitter