Currently reading: Nine more smart motorways get go-ahead despite safety concerns
Highway England allowed to build 138 miles of motorway with no hard shoulder on top of existing projects
News
2 mins read
9 November 2020

Nine further sections of new all-lane running (ALR) smart motorways have been approved despite widespread safety reservations, reports suggest. 

As first revealed by the Sunday Times, the new stretches of smart motorway will include a 32-mile section of the M3, a further 10-mile segment of the M3, a 17-mile stretch of the M6 and 23 miles of the M1.

Significantly, it's being reported that the new projects don't adhere to the safety recommendations made in a report by transport secretary Grant Shapps in March

As part of an 18-point safety plan outlined in a report into smart motorways, Shapps’ department declared that emergency refuse areas should “ideally” be placed three-quarters of a mile apart and no more than a mile apart - down from the current maximum spacing of 1.5 miles. 

However, it's reported that the new stretches will feature the emergency lay-bys positioned at distances between 1.04 and 1.39 miles. Smart motorways have no hard shoulder, so these are the only places motorists will be able to move out of the way of live traffic if an incident or breakdown occurs. 

Currently, there are around 500 miles of smart motorway across the network in England, with plans for 300 more miles to be added by 2025. 

The government has abolished the ‘dynamic’ hard shoulder smart motorways where part-time hard shoulders are in operation. Other plans announced after the review earlier this year included the accelerated roll-out of stopped vehicle detection technology and increased Highways England patrols.

In January, the head of the Police Federation in England and Wales, John Apter, called smart motorways “inherently dangerous” and said the police and the country had been “completely mislead about the technology”.

The pilot for the scheme, tested on the M42 near Birmingham before the go-ahead decisions was given in 2010, had refuge areas on average every 600 metres, and the police were told that the technology would automatically spot and deal with an obstruction quickly. 

“What we now learn is that it takes an average of 17 minutes for an obstruction to be spotted and another 17 minutes for help to arrive,” Apter said. 

Last month, a survey commissioned by recovery firm Green Flag and road safety charity Brake revealed that just 48% of UK motorists know how to use smart motorways, with 25% of those surveyed not even knowing that such a thing existed. 

READ MORE:

Smart motorway review brings 18 measures to improve safety

Opinion: do we really want more smart motorways?

Highways England raises speed limit through roadworks to 60mph

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The Apprentice 10 November 2020

Watching people's behaviour

Watching people's behaviour today they seem to have confused people too much. Watched many people continue to use inside lane and drive past multiple signs showing lane for emergency use only, overhead arrows telling people to move out of it and such. I can't work out how people in such a daze actually get to anywhere in one piece.
MarkII 10 November 2020

Refuge Areas - Not Refuse

The article refers to 'refuse areas', says it all really - it's a rubbish idea anyway!

As other have said, why is it the powers that be have their heads up their collective ar#*@ and won't listen to sound advice or the will of the public??

An Ill-conceived idea to improve traffic flow, that has actually resulted in more delays, from construction and accidents.

The lunatics have taken over the asylum.

289 10 November 2020

@ Mark11

Succinctly put Mark11.

Deaths are just a number in a box in a report to the bureaucrats .... to each family effected it is an unimaginable tragedy from which they will probably never recover and will blight the rest of their lives. Meanwhile the 'minister' sails on imperiously to the next position with zero culpability.

How did we get to this place/

'The Instigator' on this forum thread makes a good point.....people need to start to stand-up and be counted.....make a lot of noise about this through various media and organisation channels rather than just grumbling about dodgy government decisions. Otherwise this madness will continue - loved ones will be lost, children will lose parents or even entire families will be wiped out.

Chris C 10 November 2020

What is it with this government...

... that they continually ignore what the majority of voters think? Another job for Marcus Rashford?  Maybe Boris is too busy playing with his HS2 trainset and planning stupid Irish Sea Bridges and tunnels, or painting buses on wine boxes, to care...

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