New Report Reveals Dangers Of Smart Motorways

Tue 27th Aug 2019

A new study by an influential motoring organisation has revealed that breaking down on a smart motorway is more than 200 per cent more dangerous than a conventional motorway.

The research, focusing on data published by Highways England in 2016, but only revealed by a Freedom of Information request recently shows that breaking down on an all-lane-running (ALR) section of a smart motorway, without a hard shoulder is 216 per cent more dangerous.

The revelation made by the AA also shows that there are 135.1 miles of ALR smart motorway in England, but only 24.2 miles are covered by technology that automatically detects broken down vehicles in live lanes. 

Whilst the technology is in use, traditional human CCTV is used elsewhere, sometimes taking more than 15 minutes to spot broken down cars. Highways England’s own targets of spotting a broken down vehicle and putting a red X symbol to signify closure is three minutes - three minutes which leave drivers stranded and in danger from oncoming traffic.

Edmund King, president of the AA, described the news as a “truly shocking revelation”. He said: “Taking three minutes to set the red X is too long for someone in a broken-down vehicle to wait. Expecting someone to wait in a dangerous and life-threatening position for 20 minutes is simply inexcusable.”

Max Brown, head of smart roads at Highways England, commented: “The evidence is clear that smart motorways improve safety, with or without automatic stopped vehicle detection systems. The latest generation of smart motorways have helped to improve safety by at least 25 per cent.

“Our trials on the M25 have shown that a stopped vehicle detection system can be a valuable extra tool to help spot incidents more quickly, and the technology is being designed into all the smart motorway projects that we start constructing from next year.

“Meanwhile we are looking how we could provide the same benefits on all our other recently opened smart motorway upgrades and work on installing a stopped vehicle detection system on the M3 smart motorway in Surrey and Hampshire is already underway.”