Targets Being Missed On Smart Motorways

Mon 25th Jul 2022

Controversial smart motorways have been dealt another blow after a leading regulator has criticised National Highways for missing targets to attend vehicles.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has said that they have concerns for motorists with average response times not meeting national guidelines. Guidelines suggest that all vehicles which stop in live lanes on motorways without a hard shoulder should be attended within an average of 10 minutes. In every month between July 2021 and May 2022 the average response time only fell from around 12-and-a-half minutes to 10-and-a-half minutes.

The 10 minute target was actually set by National Highways, the agency responsible for England’s major road network, with the aim of reaching it within four months on launch in March 2021. In response to the ORR analysis, National Highways blamed a failure to mobilise new traffic officer vehicles due to supply chain issues.

“While the company continues to work towards delivering its safety targets, we’ve had some concerns over the company’s ability to achieve its target of a 10-minute response for traffic officers on certain sections of smart motorways,” said Feras Alshaker, director of planning and performance at the Office of Rail and Road.

“It must continue to focus on reducing its response times on these sections of motorway.”

Pointing out that National Highways had actually demonstrated an ability to bring response times down, the company’s chief executive Nick Harris said: “As the report rightly points out, we have made good progress on the majority of our main priorities over the last 12 months.

“This includes further improving the safety of our network, reducing our carbon footprint, providing fast and reliable journeys and delivering on the Government’s hugely ambitious second Road Investment Strategy.

“As an ambitious organisation that is striving to develop at pace, we know that we must continuously improve our systems and processes to ensure that we can deliver.

“This is why, over the next 12 months, we will continue to work closely with ORR to build on the strong performance of recent years while providing the additional reassurance it needs in relation to the small number of issues raised in today’s report.”