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Should We Ditch "Smart" Motorways?

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ToraToraTora | 12:19 Fri 26th Feb 2021 | News
26 Answers
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-56198979
Monumentally stupid idea in my opinion, what were they thinking?

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I am sure that the theory of 'smart motorways' sounded wonderful - some MOT wonk will have produced acres of stats showing how the congestion would be alleviated overnight. Next there would be a computer simulation showing virtual cars gliding into breakdown areas as simultaneously cameras alerted the emergency services and a patrol was en route within...
15:54 Fri 26th Feb 2021
// what were they thinking? //

they were thinking "what can we do about the appalling congestion on the motorway network?" and realising that major widening schemes were prohibitively expensive and bordering on the environmentally unacceptable. now they've tried the quart-into-a-pint-pot idea and they can say "it didn't work", they'll be better placed to get funding for the solutions that should have adopted in the first place.
Crazy idea, what were they thinking about, not at all surprised deaths have been caused.
I have never actually been on a smart motorway - only been held up by roadworks while they are making it.
The world had now changed a bit though - I wonder if we will ever see the congestion level we saw in the past?
though I agree with mushroom, the problem was that they botched their plans up which was to have an emergency area every 600-800 yards on the basis that most cars etc could coast into one of those - but I gather it's every mile to two miles and that's the numptiness in this.
Who was the Smart *** who thought it up ?
//...the problem was that they botched their plans up which was to have an emergency area every 600-800 yards on the basis that most cars etc could coast into one of those -//

Not really. I have broken down twice on a motorway and on each occasion I would not have been able to coast half a mile t a refuge. I had to stop immediately and even that was very hairy.

The idea should be scrapped and those roads already converted to (so-called) Smart Motorways should be reverted to the hard shoulder model. But instead the lunacy goes on:

https://trans.info/en/stretch-of-the-m6-to-be-transformed-into-a-smart-motorway-next-month-221977

These roads have been criticised by Coroners and in fact, anybody with an ounce of sense can see the danger they present. It will take, I think, a corporate manslaughter prosecution against Highways England or a successful civil case to sue whoever is responsible for this ridiculous idea. There can certainly be no doubt that the dangers were well publicised before the M6 scheme above gets completed.
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DTC, the spacing of the "refuges" is irrelevant, no car breaks down conveniently. Ok so maybe some could make it many wont be able to. Dangerously stupid idea.
Were the emergency services consulted on this matter ? As a retired firemen, if a call is received to a motorway ( my last station was responsible for a stretch of the M4), all services need unrestricted access. Speaks for itself.
FBG40
the pilot scheme on the M42 (the one for which the law was originally changed to allow shoulder running) was successful, and continues to be so. there are plenty of signal/camera gantries, and refuges are every 600yds. if you're unlucky enough to stop in a live lane, the camera coverage is so comprehensive the control room operators close off the lane behind you.

such a scheme was of course expensive, and the bean counters decided subsequent conversions could be done on the cheap. on the M1 north of J28, gantries and cameras are few and far between, as is the technology that's supposed to detect you if you stop (which was intended to replace the comprehensive camera coverage). typical civil service - take a reasonable idea and water it down to the point of ineffectiveness.
Yes
In answer to your question, yes we should. Will the powers that be ditch them? No they wont. Too much money has been invested in them, so they will make them work.
I once had an experience with a bolt being thrown up by the car in front of me and shattering my windscreen. Just getting across the lanes to the safety of the hard shoulder was hairy enough, let alone having to travel any distance to refuge.
//I once had an experience with a bolt being thrown up by the car in front of me and shattering my windscreen. Just getting across the lanes to the safety of the hard shoulder was hairy enough, let alone having to travel any distance to refuge.//

That's near enough what happened to me in one of my two episodes, Tony. I was in lane 2 (of three) doing 70 when my windscreen shattered (don't know the cause). I was lucky in that the driver on my nearside whom I had just overtaken saw what had happened, shoved his hazard lights on and slowed so that I could slow whilst I pulled over in front of him. Without his prompt action I might have struggled as I could not see ahead at all. Without a hard shoulder it would have been a whole lot worse as two of us would have had to stop in a live lane.
I can still visualise the bolt performing a parabola as it headed for my windscreen.
I am sure that the theory of 'smart motorways' sounded wonderful - some MOT wonk will have produced acres of stats showing how the congestion would be alleviated overnight.

Next there would be a computer simulation showing virtual cars gliding into breakdown areas as simultaneously cameras alerted the emergency services and a patrol was en route within fifteen seconds of the breakdown occurring.

Then of course the small but vital factor that all the suits signing up to this wonderful idea wouldn't have to experience driving on the new 'smart'motorways, just the plebs up north - well north of the M25, and that's out of sight out of mind.

So they build them, and hey presto, real life is a million miles away from the simulation, the safety bays are too far apart, the cameras don't work, and people start dying, and will continue to die until someone admits that they got it wrong, and puts things back to where they were.

Is less congestion really a price worth paying in terms of lives?

My junction is 15 on the M6 - 'smart' motorways in both directions, and my heart is in my mouth every time I have to drive on the ludicrous things.

Hopefully common sense will prevail eventually. The fact that the boss of the AA will not allow his patrols to attend to breakdowns on smart motorways, he insists they are towed to a safe area before his people will look at them - does that not send a serious message to the suits in transport?

I appreciate that suits don't think things through, they are seduced by the abstract notions they are fed, but when abstract notions become reality and the reality is death traps, someone needs to stand up and start admitting mistakes, and correcting them.

Now.

Today.
Question Author
Andy, great post, thanks, BA.
"My junction is 15 on the M6 - 'smart' motorways in both directions, and my heart is in my mouth every time I have to drive on the ludicrous things. " - I don't envy you, fortunately for me, I live in the South and I hardly ever have to drive on these death traps but I'd consider avoiding them if I did. I hope someone soon has the bottle to end the madness.
The emergency refuges are just that - for emergency use only.
However they are often occupied by foreign lorries that treat them as lay bys.
// My junction is 15 on the M6 - 'smart' motorways in both directions //

at the moment, it's only in one direction (north) - south from 15 is "under construction" but in a way is even worse than the completed scheme. the lanes are narrow but because the construction site is so ridiculously long (halfway between Js 13 & 12), the speed limit is raise to 60mph, which is really too high for the conditions.
Land Rover drivers never use smart motorways..:-)
Yes ditch them pronto.

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