Britain's Killer Motorways
Smart motorways were approved by Sir Mike Penning between 2010 and 2012, based on how they operated on the M42, where emergency refuge areas were 600 metres apart. The plan was to keep traffic moving and ease congestion.
We were informed that the hard shoulder would be turned into an extra lane and with live control and advanced technology they would know if cars had broken down.
However in a backtrack some 8 years later he now says “they endanger people’s lives”.
The advice is, if you break down on a live lane in the middle of the motorway, you should keep your seat belt on, keep your hazards on, put all the lights on you can and dial 999.
Hard shoulders were a safe haven and now people are being put in an emergency situation by leaving them in a live lane. You are effectively a sitting duck. Dozens of people have been killed.
However the smart motorways we are driving on have emergency refuge areas 2.5 miles apart and the radar technology supposed to keep us alive has only been installed on 2 sections of the M25.
Stop vehicle detection takes on average 17 minutes to spot a vehicle then 3 minutes to do the sign and then 17 minutes for an emergency vehicle to get to you so you are a sitting duck for over 30 minutes and the advice is to stay in your car and wait for rescue unless you are on the nearside lane.
Without a hard shoulder emergency vehicles struggle to get through to an emergency and have to cut through 4 lanes of traffic.
Following a Freedom of Information Request we found out that one warning sign was out of action for 336 days and there have been 1485 near misses on the M25.
The new transport minister is now carrying out a review and says that radar will be installed on all smart motorways within 3 years with new laybys.
There is a fatal flaw in the system. It looked like a clever idea but it is not safe enough if a breakdown can kill you.
Despite the above another 138 miles of motorway has been approved to include 32 miles on the M3, 17 miles on the M6, and 23 miles on the M1. Emergency refuge areas will be placed at intervals of between 1.04 and 1.39 miles in place of hard shoulders.
We finish this article with a damning Highways England report being unearthed by the AA, which found breaking down in the live lane of a smart motorway during off-peak hours is 216 per cent more dangerous than doing so on a conventional motorway.
Let us know your thoughts….