Currently reading: Highways England launches smart motorway safety campaign
Advertising push features a take on famous Pet Shop Boys song Go West; costs estimated at £5m

Highways England has launched a £5 million advertising campaign to encourage motorists to pull over if they run into mechanical problems on one of Britain’s smart motorways.

The Go Left campaign features a pair of flies singing a version of the Pet Shop Boys’ famous 1993 hit Go West. The “clear, single-minded message” has been designed to ensure that people experiencing mechanical issues pull off the motorway and into one of the following: an emergency area, a hard shoulder, a motorway service area, a left-hand verge or an A-road lay-by.

It comes as smart motorways have come in for recent criticism, with a coroner in Doncaster referring Highways England to the the Crown Prosecution Service to consider whether corporate manslaughter charges are appropriate over the death of a driver on the M1 in September 2018.

Nargis Begum was killed after her car broke down near Woodall Services on the M1. She exited her car after calling for help and was hit by it after it was impacted by another vehicle.

In response to the coroner’s hearing, Highways England said: “Our deepest sympathies are with the family of Mrs Begum, and all those affected by this tragic incident. Although we do not believe Highways England has committed any offence, we will of course co-operate fully in any investigation.”

The multi-million pound Go Left safety campaign is part of an 18-point action plan set out in the evidence stocktake published by the Department for Transport in March last year.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has previously criticised smart motorways but has so far ruled out their removal, instead concentrating on improving safety and public confidence.

Smart motorways made up 488 miles of England’s 2300-mile motorway network in 2020, and a further 300 miles is planned by 2025. In 2019, there were almost 230,000 breakdowns on the Highways England network, including 207,500 on motorways.


Highways England could face corporate manslaughter charge for smart motorway death

Transport secretary: smart motorways are "anything but"

Smart motorways review brings 18 measures to boost safety

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Vee_8 12 March 2021

Well I guess that clears up the whole 'smart' motorway thing now. 

If that's either the best they can think of for a safety campaign or an indication of either the intelligence of the people behind the scheme or what they think of the rest of us, it's no wonder smart motorways are so dumb. 

I suppose all breakdowns on a smart motorway allow you enough time to both get to the left hand lane and keep going long enough to reach a safety area... 

There is nothing safe about smart motorways, from a breakdown perspective they're deadly, and becuase they try and nanny your speed to death, people switch off, driving standards drop, people bunch up, you get harried by lorries, and progress is slower. Hope they get taken to the cleaners in court. 

martin_66 12 March 2021

I'm confused.

The government take away the one thing that existed as a safe place to go if you broke down on a motorway, now they spend £5 million telling me if I break down to go to the one place that doesn't exist anymore because they took it away.

At least I am glad they have cleared one thing up - I have been driving for 38 years and always thought if I break down to stop in the fast lane.  (Yes, I know, it's the overtaking lane).

£5 million well spent.  Just think, they could have really wasted it by giving nurses a decent pay rise.  Thank god they didn't make that mistake.

gagaga 11 March 2021

This is just an attempt to shift blame for casualties on these lethal death traps to motorists from the civil servants that have already pocketed their bonus and moved onto the next disaster.