May 30, 2024
Technology

Smart motorway technology fails almost once a day


“Now is the time to stop this failed experiment. Efforts have been made to retrofit safety at great expense, but you can never fully correct such a flawed design.”

A National Highways traffic officer, speaking anonymously, told the BBC: “They’re supposed to spot [broken down cars] … Are they looking at the cows in the field or are they actually looking at the motorway?

“Some of the cameras are very old – there are some signals that haven’t worked for 10-15 years.”

Smart motorways were first introduced in 2006, with a stretch of the M42 having the hard shoulder opened up to traffic during peak congestion times.

Since then, about 250 miles of so-called “all lane running” smart motorways have been introduced at a cost of around £3 billion.

50 deaths linked to smart motorways

More than 50 deaths have been linked to crashes on smart motorways caused by vehicles ploughing into broken-down cars that cannot escape from traffic because of the lack of hard shoulder.

Last April, Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, cancelled plans to expand the smart motorway network, saying the public had lost confidence in the roads.

National Highways is spending £900 million installing extra laybys on smart motorways where the hard shoulder has been converted into an extra running lane to increase traffic capacity.

Andrew Page-Dove, the state-owned company’s operational control director, said: “Safety is our highest priority and our motorways are statistically some of the safest in the world, but there is still work to do as every death is a tragedy and every serious injury a life changed.

“They were introduced to provide extra capacity on some of our busiest and most congested sections of motorway, and the latest data shows that, overall, in terms of serious or fatal casualties, smart motorways are our safest roads.”

A report from the highways maintenance organisation revealed in December that drivers are three times more dangerous to break down on smart motorways than normal motorways with hard shoulders.

The Telegraph previously revealed that National Highways’ safety systems were hit by electricity supply problems that lasted for a total of 541 hours across 52 separate days at numerous locations between April and August last year.



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