Smart motorways, which make up approximately 375 miles of our highways and use technology to help traffic flow, are about 375 miles. The government has announced that the rollout of smart motorways will be halted while safety concerns are addressed. Ginny Buckley is our reporter and she investigates the dangers of smart motorways and what we can do to make them safer.
There are three types: all-lane-running, controlled, and dynamic hard shoulder smart motorways. The latter type, which has no hard shoulder, can be dangerous for some motorists when they experience a breakdown.
Karen Baker, paramedic, says that its vital people enable emergency services to access the smart motorway.
Phil and Claire, from Lancaster, were driving down the M6 towards Gloucestershire in their Morgan Three Wheeler in October when the electric part of the car failed. They stopped in a live lane 50 yards from the closest Emergency Refuge Area (ERA) and decided to climb out of the car to push it to safety.
It was a split-second decision. It could have been a bit crazy. It saved us from being in trouble and prevented us from posing a danger to other motorists by keeping the car off the motorway. It was without a doubt the scariest moment in my entire life.”
Phil Bleazey Lancaster
The very first smart motorway pilot was built on the M42 in West Midlands in 2006.
They changed the Emergency Refuge Areas to be every four or five hundred meters, or every half mile. Live lanes are where 38% of motorway breakdowns occur. If you have a break down in a livelane, you could be at risk.
Edmund King OBE, President of The AA
Between 2014 and 2019, 38 people died on smart motorways. Meera Naran is one of the people who have dedicated her life to improving road safety. Dev, her eight-year-old son, was killed when a truck struck Dev’s grandfather’s car while he was driving on the M6 hard shoulder. This was a live lane.
Meera made 19 policy recommendations to improve road safety in 2020. 18 of them were adopted by government. These included speeding up deployment of’stopped Vehicle Detection’ technology on smart motorways and reducing the distance between ERAs. They also explained smart motorways in highway code.
Meera is pushing for better education.
“I would love to see an educational platform that provides basic information about car care and basic road use, as well as highlighting the changes in the highway codes.”
Meera Naran is an Independent Road Safety Campaigner
Technology that stops vehicle detection reduces the time required for control room operators and assistance to be deployed to detect stationary vehicles. National Highways claims that all motorways with a single lane will have stopped vehicle detection technology before September 2022. They want to educate the public about safe driving habits:
“We can do more to inform and educate drivers. We are currently running the Red X campaign – explaining why it is important to follow the Red X.
Nick Harris, CEO National Highways
The rollout of new smart motorways with all-lane operation will be stopped until five years’ worth of safety data is collected. The current smart motorway stretches will be upgraded with new technology and resources. 150 additional emergency refuge areas will be installed. PS900 million has been committed by the Government to ensure that drivers feel safe.
Smart Motorways: What’s the Deal with the Brakes? The programme will air at 7:30pm on Thursday 27 January on ITV1.