Are motorways all that ‘smart’?

There were 1,784 confirmed road casualties on Britain’s roads in 2018. That is just 1% fewer than 2017 as figures remain consistent for a seventh year. Biggest rise in deaths was on motorways as concerns grow over ‘smart’ routes.

Highways England claimed ‘they are as safe as our wider motorway network’. Number of drivers over 60 killed also grew – DfT said this was due to more being on the road than in past years.

4 comments for “Are motorways all that ‘smart’?

  1. September 29, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    A number of people have said almost exactly the same thing.
    Smart motorways are the first change to the motorway network that has had an adverse effect on the numbers of fatalities, or at the very least the direction of travel i.e downwards.
    Previous changes have increased safety: From Grass verges separating traffic, we went to armco and now we have solid concrete dividers that should deflect even a lorry.
    Signeage improved and became clearer, fog detectors and warning signs limited casualties as advisory speed limits could be introduced.
    Then we were told that even when we pulled over to the hard shoulder and apparent safety, we should not stay in the car but instead leave it and stay behind the barriers.

    But smart motorways, where the option to pull over to the hard shoulder has been removed, are a retrograde step. No matter how many cameras there are, no matter how many signs warning that lanes are closed…it’s always the human factor that you can’t legislate for: the failure to avoid the car stuck in harm’s way.

    When we were told we were still in danger even when on the hard shoulder, it beggars belief that they can now change tack and say we are safe when stuck in a live lane.

    • Mudplugger
      September 29, 2019 at 9:15 pm

      It’s also spectacularly bad planning to be issuing a message at the same time against drivers hogging the middle lane(s) (with penalties for transgression) – that causes more vehicles to be concentrated in the slow-lane, thus increasing the risk for any broken-down vehicles which could not get to a safety zone.

      Perversely, on ‘smart’ motorways, it would always seem safer to avoid Lane 1.

  2. September 29, 2019 at 11:38 pm

    Sounds not good.

  3. Pcar
    October 2, 2019 at 12:34 am

    As a Biker, thus no tin-box crumple zones protection, Smart Motorways horrify me.

    They also mean breakdowns/accidents take much longer to clear – bet that unintended consequence never considered, or that hard shoulders were not constructed for traffic and will quickly wear out; penny wise pound foolish

    +1 to all Mark & Mud wrote

    Smart Motorways – Making your journey better for undertakers and formaldehyde manufacturers

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