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'Smart' Motorways, an accident waiting to happen?

Joshua Slocum

LE
Book Reviewer
That's why the advice is to get out and up the bank or behind the barrier. Apparently the two involved in this latest case didn't do that.
oddly both of their cars were drivable, why not move to the next junction
saw a video of the Nurburgring, some Alpha Male crashes his lovely RS8 they then get out and make phone calls and his bird takes pictures, while cars are passing at 70mph or possibly more
 

wheel

LE
Back on topic, Inormally do about 20k miles per year, obviously a lot on motorways.

If it's busy I simply don't drive in lane 1 of a "smart" motorway. The risk of coming across a stranded car or truck in an active lane is just too high and you may not have sufficient time or space to brake / swerve round the obstruction.

The tea-swilling cnuts in Highways Agency control centres are too busy looking at the pictures in the latest copy of the Beano to take any notice of the CCTV.

ETA, worst bits in my experience (other than the M25 obvs) are M1 around Nottingham, M6 around Birmingham and M60 North of Manchester.
M6 Around jct 20.
 

anglo

LE
In the first instant hard shoulders were included in the motorway design for

Purpose. Shoulders have multiple uses, including: Emergency vehicles such as ambulances, fire trucks and police cars may use the shoulder to bypass traffic congestion. In the event of an emergency or breakdown, a motorist can pull into the shoulder to get out of the flow of traffic and obtain a greater degree of safety ...
Someone in the past thought it was worth the expense to keep people safe

What changed?

When smart motorways were design something called "stopped vehicle detection technology"
was to be fitted to all smart motorways, but development of this technology development fell
behind,
This "stopped vehicle detection technology" was needed to keep the motorway safe,
If it is not fitted the motorway is not safe,

Stopped Vehicle Detection (SVD) Radar for Road Safety
 
Last edited:
won't drive on a smart motorway because they're "dangerous" even though 94% of fatalities happen in non-motorway crashes.
False equivalence. We've known for years that motorways are the safest roads because everything is going in the same direction at a similar speed. Most crashes take place on urban roads (low speed, high hazard), most fatalities take place on country lanes (high speed, bends and trees and stuff).

Smart motorways make a safe thing less safe. Just because non-motorways are even more unsafe, does not mean that we should accept an increased risk for what is effectively an income generation tool for the government.

You've also blamed the driver - what you need to remember is that a large proportion of drivers are fúcking dreadful - old biddies who don't know what's going on, díckhead boy racers, the unpredictable nervous wreck, the foreigner who doesn't have a licence - the roads need to be usable by all, even the worst drivers - if you make it too hard for Karen from Slough who can't see where she's going because she's got a pot of flowers on her dashboard and she's too busy gobbing off to her passenger, she'll crash and take someone else with her.

Legislate for the retards by having a hard shoulder, or make the driving test much harder, with periodic retests.
 
Dual carriageways don't have a hard shoulder and are national speed limits. What's the difference? There is far more technology on a smart motorway than a dual carriageway. And before you ask, I don't patrol them, I patrol the stretch that time forgot, we still get RTCs due to inattentive drivers.
They have horrible accidents too
 

cowgoesmoo

Old-Salt
Smart motorways make a safe thing less safe. Just because non-motorways are even more unsafe, does not mean that we should accept an increased risk for what is effectively an income generation tool for the government.

You've also blamed the driver - what you need to remember is that a large proportion of drivers are fúcking dreadful - old biddies who don't know what's going on, díckhead boy racers, the unpredictable nervous wreck, the foreigner who doesn't have a licence - the roads need to be usable by all, even the worst drivers - if you make it too hard for Karen from Slough who can't see where she's going because she's got a pot of flowers on her dashboard and she's too busy gobbing off to her passenger, she'll crash and take someone else with her.

Legislate for the retards by having a hard shoulder, or make the driving test much harder, with periodic retests.
That exactly the point i've made a couple of times and got shot down for! Poor driving standards and near-zero enforcement of traffic laws are a far bigger cause of accidents than road design. People also conveniently ignore the reduction in crashes caused by stop-start traffic and tailbacks that have been reduced by the smoother flowing traffic through the new sections.
 

wheel

LE
All easily avoided by maintaining a car properly, not just changing the oil once a year before crossing you fingers that the advisories from last years MOT haven't become outright fails. And understanding that run-flat tires are designed to allow you to keep driving to a safe place, not stopping in the middle of the carriageway.
I hope that you never have the misfortune to break down on a motorway. I can assure you that it is not a pleasant experience. Especially when it is pissing it down and visibility is very limited.
Standing on a grass bank just expecting an artic to sideswipe your motor, never mind being on the inside live lane of a smart motorway.
You should change your name to sillymoo
 
False equivalence. We've known for years that motorways are the safest roads because everything is going in the same direction at a similar speed. Most crashes take place on urban roads (low speed, high hazard), most fatalities take place on country lanes (high speed, bends and trees and stuff).

Smart motorways make a safe thing less safe. Just because non-motorways are even more unsafe, does not mean that we should accept an increased risk for what is effectively an income generation tool for the government.

You've also blamed the driver - what you need to remember is that a large proportion of drivers are fúcking dreadful - old biddies who don't know what's going on, díckhead boy racers, the unpredictable nervous wreck, the foreigner who doesn't have a licence - the roads need to be usable by all, even the worst drivers - if you make it too hard for Karen from Slough who can't see where she's going because she's got a pot of flowers on her dashboard and she's too busy gobbing off to her passenger, she'll crash and take someone else with her.

Legislate for the retards by having a hard shoulder, or make the driving test much harder, with periodic retests.

I agree with your post and would like to add the point that many drivers have been given licences in exchange a for a foreign one. Therefore, they have not received any tuition on the way we drive in the UK or what is expected of road users.
 

ACAB

LE
My issue with so called "smart motorways" is that during an RTC the hard shoulder is not available for Emergency Vehicles = more death.
 

wheel

LE
The whole point of the original smart motorways was that the hard shoulder would be used as an additional lane when traffic was heavy and slow moving to help ease congestion. If traffic is light enough that you can do 70mph in lane 1 then the hard shoulder wouldnt be in use.
You obviously do not use smart motorways very often if at all.
 

3ToedSloth

War Hero
That exactly the point i've made a couple of times and got shot down for! Poor driving standards and near-zero enforcement of traffic laws are a far bigger cause of accidents than road design. People also conveniently ignore the reduction in crashes caused by stop-start traffic and tailbacks that have been reduced by the smoother flowing traffic through the new sections.
What do you suggest to improve driving standards?
What level of traffic law enforcement do you propose?
 

Joshua Slocum

LE
Book Reviewer
I saw a fella lose control of his car, when he hit a pushbike that came of the back of an AUDI , couple of OK Yahs driving the big all wheel drive thing with a rack on the back , they were not hanging about either and the bikes were jumping and shaking as they pissed past in the outside lane
driver didnt have a chance to avoid it, it bounced hit his bonnet and went under the front , the trucks slowed down very quickly, he managed to limp over to the hard shoulder, but it had taken a tyre out and the cooling system and oil was spewing out
I moved over and gave him my details
how could that be his problem ? , also seen truck tyres burst and the truck swerve all over the place , a motorcycle hit a pallet that came from the opposite side of the road , he survived, but a lot of broken bits
you need a safe lane
smart motorways are just a method of easing uneccesary congestion
Remember the M25 ?
as soon as they started building that, employees of the firm I worked for in Bermondsey started moving out to the Country side.
at first they could zoom into work quickly ,but any road will soon fill up to capacity, as soon as the Watford Gap was complete it became a massive car park full of commuters
 

DaManBugs

LE
Book Reviewer
My issue with so called "smart motorways" is that during an RTC the hard shoulder is not available for Emergency Vehicles = more death.
This is the way the Germans do it. They've a lot more experience with motorways than the Brits and also at much higher speeds. But when there's a prang, this happens:

MsG
 
When ‘smart’ motorways were originally tested and approved, emergency refuges were 600m apart.

By the time all-lane running was introduced that had magically increased to 2.5km and stopped vehicle radar would be in place on all smart motorways. So that will be OK then.

How is that going?

There are also links (the bits between junctions) where there are no ERAs. AT. ALL. The idea on those sections is that you're supposed to struggle on to the next exit slip.

Which every vehicle with a problem can always do, 100% of the time. Riiiiight.

There was a report in the local rag recently on a Smart Motorway inquest. 2 dead I think. There was a senior bloke there from HE by the initials of MB. In my short time at HE I had limited dealings with him. Limited but more than sufficient to realise that he had zero operational experience of how motorways work. He was, (and still is as far as I know), in charge of the SM programme. Wouldn't be told that some of the ideas going over his desk were significantly less than sensible, much less practical, because those above him had already been informed of the latest "good" idea and were sold on them.
 

anglo

LE
There are also links (the bits between junctions) where there are no ERAs. AT. ALL. The idea on those sections is that you're supposed to struggle on to the next exit slip.

Which every vehicle with a problem can always do, 100% of the time. Riiiiight.

There was a report in the local rag recently on a Smart Motorway inquest. 2 dead I think. There was a senior bloke there from HE by the initials of MB. In my short time at HE I had limited dealings with him. Limited but more than sufficient to realise that he had zero operational experience of how motorways work. He was, (and still is as far as I know), in charge of the SM programme. Wouldn't be told that some of the ideas going over his desk were significantly less than sensible, much less practical, because those above him had already been informed of the latest "good" idea and were sold on them.
Maybe he put this out,
“Emergency Refuge Areas”, or ERAs, are designed to be safe areas for stranded vehicles on roads without hard shoulders. They appear up to every 1.5 miles on all lane running smart motorways, which means that you will reach a place you can stop in an emergency every 75 seconds on average, if driving at 60mph, according to Highways England.

FFS, How you do 60MPH when your car is knackered
 
Dual carriageways don't have a hard shoulder and are national speed limits. What's the difference? There is far more technology on a smart motorway than a dual carriageway. And before you ask, I don't patrol them, I patrol the stretch that time forgot, we still get RTCs due to inattentive drivers.
The difference is expectations. What do you expect not to do on a motorway that you are constantly expecting to do on any other class of road? The answer is simple.

Stop.

Ok, so you want to drive from Bristol (hellhole) to Glasgow (Hellhole). How are you going to do it? On A or B class roads or on a motorway? The answer is motorway because you know full well that providing your tank is full, once you get on the motorway, you won't need to stop or, (with a fair wind), drop below 50-ish for the entire journey.

You know for a cast iron fact you won't be able to do that on A/B roads due to junctions, tractors, pedestrian crossings, etc.

So once you've been on the motorway for over half an hour or so, the vast majority of drivers won't be paying quite as much attention to the driving task as they would be on lower class roads. I don't care how good a driver you are, if you're being honest with yourself, you know this to be true.

Thus you are more likely to be caught out on a motorway than on another class of road, because the normal free-flow of the journey has lulled you into a false sense of security. Take away the hard shoulder and that vehicle in front that would normally pull over onto it is now stopped in the nearside lane. The platoon of lorries in front of you might be able to pull out to pass it but each one will pull over that little bit closer to the stopped vehicle until one of them doesn't have enough time to react and then...

Or it could be a driver who has been at the wheel for too long and is dozing. WHACK!

You can't account for human nature but you can mitigate against it, The hard shoulder is mitigation. Lack of hard shoulder on a route where you don't expect to have to stop or come across a vehicle in a live lane isn't.
 
This is the way the Germans do it. They've a lot more experience with motorways than the Brits and also at much higher speeds. But when there's a prang, this happens:

MsG
Why would the Germans have a lot more experience of motorways? We've had them since 1958, so unless you're only counting those over the age of 80, British drivers have always had them.
 
Maybe he put this out,
“Emergency Refuge Areas”, or ERAs, are designed to be safe areas for stranded vehicles on roads without hard shoulders. They appear up to every 1.5 miles on all lane running smart motorways, which means that you will reach a place you can stop in an emergency every 75 seconds on average, if driving at 60mph, according to Highways England.

FFS, How you do 60MPH when your car is knackered
Yes ERA spacings. The spacings of them were "value engineered" from their original spacings down to what they were on recent schemes, hence the total lack of them on some links. Quite how HE got away with this, (apart from a complete lack of oversight from anyone with any clout), is another matter.
 

ACAB

LE
This is the way the Germans do it. They've a lot more experience with motorways than the Brits and also at much higher speeds. But when there's a prang, this happens:

MsG
It's not the same. Germans are conditioned to give way to emergency service vehicles. Brit drivers are not.
 

cowgoesmoo

Old-Salt
What do you suggest to improve driving standards?
What level of traffic law enforcement do you propose?
Off the top of my head..

1) Require people to prove they can drive on a motorway before we let them drive on them. You can get your licence and immediately drive at 70mph down a motorway despite no-one ever giving you any instruction or examining your ability to do it safely. You can't drive down a 30mph road past a school or a NSL dual carriageway without it but you can on a motorway for some reason.
2) Stop allowing people to drive on foreign licences for extended periods. e.g: You can pass you test in India by driving 50 yards, turning left and stopping, and this entitles you to drive in the UK for 12 months. Mexico doesn't even require a test to be taken, but you can drive in the UK for 12 months.
3) Require a refresher test every 10 years at the same time as renewing your driving licence. Things change over time, some people who are driving now passed their tests before motorways even existed in the UK. One of the problems with smart motorways is that people who don't often use them don't understand what they are or how they work.
4) Have dedicated traffic police, and more of them. And not dragged off to fill holes elsewhere. How often do you see police out on patrol or acting as a visual deterrent compared to a decade or two ago. Multiple studies have shown that the chances of being caught have a larger impact on people behaviour than the penalties for being caught.
5) Stop relying on technology to police the roads. If your vehicle is taxed, insured and you slow down for speed cameras your chance of being caught for drink/drug/dangerous driving/texting is virtually nil. Even if caught on dashcam you're unlikely to be prosecuted - one look at the amount of dashcam footage uploaded to the internet shows the amount of times the police haven't done anything as the driver couldn't be identified.
You obviously do not use smart motorways very often if at all.
In a normal year I do about 50-60k, mostly on the motorways. I see the benefits of the smoother flowing traffic and reduced delays they've brought.
 

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