'Smart' Motorways, an accident waiting to happen?

Couple of months ago I had a driver southbound on the M6 between T4 and J3
In the roadworks for the smart motorway upgrade, unlit (early hours) and no hard shoulder.

Black VW Polo ran out of fuel in lane 1. Driver on the embankment hazard lights on

Our driver did see the abandoned car but fractionally too late to avoid it.
Almost managed to miss the Polo. But not quite

Polo written off, 4 grands worth of damage to our lorry. Insurance company washed it hands and apportioned blame to us. Hazard lights on the abandoned vehicle so our drivers fault.

No hard shoulder, no lighting, no place of safety.

Smart motorways are dangerous. Thats all there is to it.
 
I've got a triangle and a handful of lightsticks in my boot, the idea being that in the dark approaching traffic will wonder what is ahead and lift off the loud pedal, if deployed a decent distance behind the car.

Lightsticks arranged thus in the same way as traffic cones taper at beginning of lane-closure roadworks. Another red on the centreline a couple of meters aft of the car, an orange alongside it, a green 10m or so ahead in the middle of the lane.

View attachment 446186

There's a purple lightstick in the pouch to hang from my old chap, too.


Haven't tested it yet but the theory seems sound. Thoughts, anyone...? The only problem I can see is running about on the motorway - but there's only one of those around here and I don't use it much. Main threat is unlit, twisty B-roads (and similarly shaped A-roads!).
Seems sound. Last week I was driving in France on a grey day with patchy mist. Chap broke down on hard shoulder had done something similar. Visibility was poor but not bad, but I thought these were quite effective.
ETA: saw the postings after this. I agree with all that’s said, but what this bloke had done had only increased his visibility, which I applaud.
 
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Quo_vadis

Swinger
That was the most sobering thing on the Panorama programme last night. Audio recording from a control centre of a bloke with 5 kids in the car doing just that, followed by him saying "Oh shit" and a very loud bang and sounds of tearing metal.

That set me thinking. If you're unable to bail out, what's the best option? Handbrake off, head back hard into the head restraint and hope that being shunted forward dissipates some of the impact energy?
Yeah, whack your hazzies on and "brace, brace, brace" probably.

Tragically, the same sort of thing used to happen pre-smart motorways. About 250 people were killed or injured on motorway hard shoulders every year, before smart motorways were even a thing.

I think most people have a misconception that hard shoulders are a safe refuge, hence the current hysteria over smart motorways. I think we can all agree that motorways are just a really shit place to break down, wherever you happen to be positioned. Only so much can be done to mitigate the risks. I don't know what the answer is, but based on the statistics, it is not hard shoulders.
 

Arkanstigger

War Hero
I think most people have a misconception that hard shoulders are a safe refuge, hence the current hysteria over smart motorways. I think we can all agree that motorways are just a really shit place to break down, wherever you happen to be positioned.
I don't think many people I know think a hard shoulder is safe, and the first thing I'd do is get myself, wife and dog straight over the armco and up the embankment.

However it's safer than stopping in a live lane of traffic. Maybe one option is a huge barrier every few hundred metres, so the hard shoulder is a series of protected lay-bys rather than a lane that lorry drivers happily meander into while watching porn on their phones.

However that would cost serious money, and you'd end up with miles of crashed HGVs, so that's a non starter.
 
Couple of months ago I had a driver southbound on the M6 between T4 and J3
In the roadworks for the smart motorway upgrade, unlit (early hours) and no hard shoulder.

Black VW Polo ran out of fuel in lane 1. Driver on the embankment hazard lights on

Our driver did see the abandoned car but fractionally too late to avoid it.
Almost managed to miss the Polo. But not quite..
Are d*ckheads like this part of the problem? Should be an offence with a massive penalty.
 
Are d*ckheads like this part of the problem? Should be an offence with a massive penalty.
I understand that it comes under the category of careless driving, and that motorists are often fined for running out of fuel on a motorway. I would imagine that the fines are not of the order that you would consider “massive” though.
 
I don't think many people I know think a hard shoulder is safe, and the first thing I'd do is get myself, wife and dog straight over the armco and up the embankment.
To be fair to the older drivers, the advice when I was learning to drive was that people should stay in the car, except for the driver who should walk along the edge of the hard shoulder to the emergency phone box. Back then, you were expected to change your wheel yourself, even though it wasn't a test requirement.
 

Quo_vadis

Swinger
To be fair to the older drivers, the advice when I was learning to drive was that people should stay in the car, except for the driver who should walk along the edge of the hard shoulder to the emergency phone box. Back then, you were expected to change your wheel yourself, even though it wasn't a test requirement.
Perhaps that was in an era of relatively light motorway traffic, lower speeds and fewer in-vehicle distractions. By the early 2000s, the toll of deaths and serious injuries on the hard shoulder had become sufficiently alarming to cause a re-think, hence the advice to get behind the barrier.
 
Perhaps that was in an era of relatively light motorway traffic, lower speeds and fewer in-vehicle distractions. By the early 2000s, the toll of deaths and serious injuries on the hard shoulder had become sufficiently alarming to cause a re-think, hence the advice to get behind the barrier.
It was but there are probably quite a few elderly drivers who aren't aware that the advice has changed.
 

Truxx

LE
It was but there are probably quite a few elderly drivers who aren't aware that the advice has changed.
Having had a bit to do with driver training I would contend that anyone who took their test more than 5 years ago is out of date.

I commend everyone to have a go at one of these...

 
Couple of months ago I had a driver southbound on the M6 between T4 and J3
In the roadworks for the smart motorway upgrade, unlit (early hours) and no hard shoulder.

Black VW Polo ran out of fuel in lane 1. Driver on the embankment hazard lights on

Our driver did see the abandoned car but fractionally too late to avoid it.
Almost managed to miss the Polo. But not quite

Polo written off, 4 grands worth of damage to our lorry. Insurance company washed it hands and apportioned blame to us. Hazard lights on the abandoned vehicle so our drivers fault.

No hard shoulder, no lighting, no place of safety.

Smart motorways are dangerous. Thats all there is to it.
Your driver was going too fast for the road conditions then?
I don't under stand why people think its anyone but the drivers fault if a vehicle hits the back of a stationary vehicle.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
Perhaps that was in an era of relatively light motorway traffic, lower speeds and fewer in-vehicle distractions. By the early 2000s, the toll of deaths and serious injuries on the hard shoulder had become sufficiently alarming to cause a re-think, hence the advice to get behind the barrier.
It's a completely different environment now. One of the reasons for the replacement of the various previous types of barriers in the central reservations with Jersey barriers is the increased size of HGVs - the old barriers wouldn't stop them.

Size = decreased visibility. Plus speed, plus stopping distances, plus increased traffic and driver distractions. Etc.

Coming back to @jagman2's post about the black Polo above: a good few years ago, a colleague of my uncle turned into a street and drove straight into a white Transit van, writing it and his own vehicle off.

He simply hadn't seen it. The van was parked under a tree and the street lighting shining through the foliage had caused a dappled effect rendering the van invisible.

I've every sympathy with the driver who hit the Polo. I can see how it happened, hazard lights or no.
 

anglo

LE
Safe?
The precautions for breaking down on a smart motorway

Smart motorways are so dangerous that drivers must call 999 if they break down on them, a police leader warned yesterday.
Che Donald, vice-chairman of the Police Federation, said even a tyre puncture could be a life-or-death emergency.
He said: 'It is inherently dangerous, our members are responding to these breakdowns. We know Highways England has a duty to assist, but I think their primary focus is more about the flow of traffic than the safety of people using those roads.'
AA boss Edmund King underlined the breakdown advice, adding: 'If you can't get out, keep your seatbelt on, put your hazards on and dial 999. That's how serious it is.' It came hours after John Apter, boss of the federation which represents rank and file officers, warned the roads were 'death traps'. A total of 38 people have been killed in five years.
Mr King also said smart motorways – where the hard shoulder is used as a regular traffic lane to ease congestion – could be obsolete within a decade as they are not suitable for electric cars. He warned: 'You can't flat tow some electric vehicles more than 800 metres, some you can't flat tow at all. So the problem is they will take longer to get off the motorways.'
 

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