SMARTening motorways

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Horse
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SMARTening motorways

Post by Horse »

Highways England has confirmed a number of proposals as part of its commitment to improve smart motorways.

The plans come as part of the organisation’s annual report which suggests 18 changes.

In October 2019, the Secretary of State for Transport asked the Department for Transport (DfT) to carry out a stocktake of the safety of smart motorways.

Published in March 2020, the Smart motorway safety evidence stocktake and action plan established that, in ‘most ways’, smart motorways are at least as safe as, or safer than, the conventional motorways they replaced. “However, there are individual risks within their operation that could be further reduced to improve safety and public confidence. We are determined to do all we can to make our roads as safe as possible, and we will take forward the measures set out by DfT,” said the annual report.

“We have agreed with government an 18-point action plan to make smart motorways safer and increase customer confidence in using them. Recognising concerns, we will strengthen our existing communications and public awareness messages, aimed at improving our customers’ understanding about how to use smart motorways and what to do in an emergency,” it added.

The changes include the investment of £5 million extra to further increase public awareness and understanding of smart motorways and how to use them confidently. “We will ensure drivers receive advice to help them keep safe on smart motorways, including advice on what to do in a breakdown,” said the report. There will be an end to the use of dynamic hard shoulders by converting dynamic hard shoulder sections to all-lane running to end driver confusion over different types of smart motorway. Also included is faster roll-out of stopped vehicle detection to all sections of smart motorway currently without it so stopped vehicles are, in most cases, detected in 20 seconds. Future designed schemes will have this technology as standard, said Highways England.

The organisation is also committing to a new standard for spacing of places to stop in an emergency, with a maximum of one mile apart. We will look to, where feasible, provide them every 0.75 miles apart so that, on future schemes, motorists should typically reach one every 45 seconds at 60mph.

The changes in full:

1. Ending the use of dynamic hard shoulders by converting dynamic hard
shoulder sections to all-lane running to end driver confusion over different types of smart motorway.
2. Faster roll-out of stopped vehicle detection to all sections of smart motorway currently without it so stopped vehicles are, in most cases, detected in 20 seconds. Future designed schemes will have this technology as standard.
3. Faster attendance by more Highways England traffic officer patrols on
smart motorways where the existing spacing between places to stop in an
emergency, such as motorway services and emergency areas, is more than one mile, reducing the attendance time from an average of 17 minutes to 10 minutes.
4. Committing to a new standard for spacing of places to stop in an
emergency, with a maximum of one mile apart. We will look to, where feasible, provide them every 0.75 miles apart so that, on future schemes, motorists should typically reach one every 45 seconds at 60mph.
5. Delivering ten additional emergency areas on the M25 on the sections of
smart motorway with a higher rate of live lane stops, and where places to stop in an emergency are furthest apart.
6. Considering a national programme to install more emergency areas on
existing smart motorways, where places to stop in an emergency are more
than one mile apart.
7. Investigating M6 Bromford viaduct and sections of the M1 to understand
what more could be done on these sections where multiple collisions
have occurred.
8 Making emergency areas more visible – all emergency areas will have a bright orange road surface, better signs on approach showing where they are, and signs within them giving information on what to do. These will be installed by the end of spring 2020.
9. Installing more traffic signs giving the distance to the next place to stop
in an emergency so you should almost always be able to see a sign (typically
these will be between 300 and 400 metres apart), helping drivers reach a safer place to stop.
10. More communication with drivers by improving public information, spending £5 million extra to further increase public awareness and understanding of smart motorways and how to use them confidently. We will ensure drivers receive advice to help them keep safe on smart motorways, including advice on what to do in a breakdown.
1.1 Displaying ‘report of obstruction’ messages automatically on electronic signs to warn oncoming drivers of a stopped vehicle ahead.
12. Displaying places to stop in an emergency on your satnav by working with satnav providers to ensure that places to stop in an emergency, such as
emergency areas, are shown on the screen of the device when needed.
13. Making it easier to call for help if broken down by working with car
manufacturers to build greater awareness and understanding of ‘eCall’
functionality, which is standard in all new cars from April 2018.
14. Completing the upgrade of digital enforcement cameras across the smart motorway network, enabling Red X signs to be enforced.
15. Updating the Highway Code to provide more guidance for motorists on smart motorway driving.
16 Closer working with the recovery industry, improving collaboration, training and procedures.
17 Reviewing existing emergency areas where the width is less than the current standard; and if feasible and appropriate we will widen to the current standard.
18. Supporting the DfT in their immediate review of the use of red flashing lights for recovery vehicles.
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Re: SMARTening motorways

Post by Lutin »

There's nothing there that would encourage me to use a smart motorway. How many more dead do there have to be before they are seen as utterly ridiculous and beyond sense?
Blundering about trying not to make too much of a hash of things.
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Re: SMARTening motorways

Post by KungFooBob »

The wife has just started a H&S job at a SEND college.

She found out yesterday that any vehicles carrying students are not allowed to travel on smart motorways.

I guess it's because managing the students during a breakdown is a bit like herding cats and a proper hard shoulder makes containment a little easier.
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Re: SMARTening motorways

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Lutin wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:30 pm There's nothing there that would encourage me to use a smart motorway. How many more dead do there have to be before they are seen as utterly ridiculous and beyond sense?
Do you ever travel on dual carriageways, the ones with a mix of traffic from cyclists and tractors up to HGVs and cars, no refuge areas, no electronic signs, etc?

How many fatalities have there been, and how many were due to the road (rather than drivers not looking where they were going)?
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Re: SMARTening motorways

Post by MrLongbeard »

Lutin wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:30 pm There's nothing there that would encourage me to use a smart motorway. How many more dead do there have to be before they are seen as utterly ridiculous and beyond sense?
I use 3 (M5, M42 & M6) every time I go to work, coincidentally I use the same 3 on the way back, just in reverse order.

They suck balls and I hate them with a passion, except for the M6 stretch (between Cov & the M42) which has actually worked and increased the flow / speed of traffic.
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Re: SMARTening motorways

Post by Dodgy knees »

Less cars, Less hgv, More bikes, 🤷‍♂️
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Re: SMARTening motorways

Post by The Spin Doctor »

Horse wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:24 pm in ‘most ways’, smart motorways are at least as safe as, or safer than, the conventional motorways they replaced.
The implication is that in some ways they must therefore be less safe.
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Re: SMARTening motorways

Post by The Spin Doctor »

Horse wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:09 pm
Lutin wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:30 pm There's nothing there that would encourage me to use a smart motorway. How many more dead do there have to be before they are seen as utterly ridiculous and beyond sense?
Do you ever travel on dual carriageways, the ones with a mix of traffic from cyclists and tractors up to HGVs and cars, no refuge areas, no electronic signs, etc?

How many fatalities have there been, and how many were due to the road (rather than drivers not looking where they were going)?
Rarely more than two lanes, and traffic tends to move more slowly.
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Re: SMARTening motorways

Post by Horse »

The Spin Doctor wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:07 pm
Horse wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:09 pm
Lutin wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:30 pm There's nothing there that would encourage me to use a smart motorway. How many more dead do there have to be before they are seen as utterly ridiculous and beyond sense?
Do you ever travel on dual carriageways, the ones with a mix of traffic from cyclists and tractors up to HGVs and cars, no refuge areas, no electronic signs, etc?

How many fatalities have there been, and how many were due to the road (rather than drivers not looking where they were going)?
Rarely more than two lanes, and traffic tends to move more slowly.
More lanes = more opportunities to pass obstructions?

And non-mways have greater range of closing speeds on slower traffic. You might even be lucky enough to encounter pedestrians trying to cross.
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Re: SMARTening motorways

Post by Horse »

The Spin Doctor wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:06 pm
Horse wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:24 pm in ‘most ways’, smart motorways are at least as safe as, or safer than, the conventional motorways they replaced.
The implication is that in some ways they must therefore be less safe.
And the explanation followed. Here's the full paragraph:

Published in March 2020, the Smart motorway safety evidence stocktake and action plan established that, in ‘most ways’, smart motorways are at least as safe as, or safer than, the conventional motorways they replaced. “However, there are individual risks within their operation that could be further reduced to improve safety and public confidence. We are determined to do all we can to make our roads as safe as possible, and we will take forward the measures set out by DfT,” said the annual report.


Luckily, the list of them was in the post.
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Re: SMARTening motorways

Post by The Spin Doctor »

Horse wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:34 pm
More lanes = more opportunities to pass obstructions?
What a lovely simplistic model. Have a think about these issues:

1) If we assume* that the break-down rate is equal on dual carriageways and motorways and that ALL vehicles that brake down actually come to a halt on the carriageway itself, then if there are more lanes carrying more traffic there will be a greater likelihood that PER MILE there will be more obstructions you NEED to pass. If the flow rate per lane is the same, there will be TWICE as many broken down vehicles on a four lane stretch than a two lane stretch.

I emailed you back in July that I passed TEN (IIRC )stopped vehicles on NON-smart sections of motorways between Exeter and the A40 - roughly one every twenty miles.

2) On a busy two lane dual carriageway, a breaking-down vehicle SLOWS everything behind it AS it comes to a halt because you're now trying to squeeze two lanes into one. If a vehicle breaks down on a four lane stretch of motorway in the nearside lane, then there are still three lanes to take up the slack, and vehicles can usually move out AND keep moving at speed. The problem is that now there's no OBVIOUS reduction in flow rate to warn drivers coming up to the obstruction. And then you get the truck that moves out at the last moment, uncloaking the stopped vehicle too late for the vehicle behind THAT to take evasive action.
And non-mways have greater range of closing speeds on slower traffic. You might even be lucky enough to encounter pedestrians trying to cross.
Leaving pedestrians out of it for the moment, is that true?

It's right IN THEORY but ONLY if traffic is very light - in which case you can see the slower-moving hazard and have plenty of opportunity to move to the other lane. In reality, on a reasonably busy dual carriageway, the slower vehicle acts as a pinch point which causes a back-up of slow moving traffic behind it, which can be seen and reacted to. You rarely encounter a slow-moving tractor that gets 'uncloaked' in the same way as happens on a road with more lanes.

And whilst you may encounter pedestrians, they will rarely walk straight out in front of vehicles travelling at 70 mph. They wait for a quiet moment.

* Of course, that's assuming that the breakdown rate on the carriageways is the same.

It would be interesting to know what the breakdown rate actually is. I suspect that it's higher for vehicles undertaking long journeys, given the AA / RAC advice.

There are also a lot more places to leave and enter dual carriageways that may well mean that anyone with a developing problem - such as a deflating tyre or overheating engine - can make it OFF the main carriageway before stopping.

And here's something else to think about. I did pass a broken-down car on a dual carriageway the other day. The driver had parked it on the grass at the side of the road. That's rarely possible on smart motorways since they've been widened to the limit of the 'land grab' that allowed them to be built with a hard shoulder, so the Armco is normally right at the left edge of the old hard shoulder.

As for detecting stopped vehicles, and getting warning lights up and running in 20 seconds, it was an unforgivable piece of cost-cutting, and it should be installed on ALL smart motorways immediately.

But the fact remains, you still can't alert a driver who's passed the final sign before the broken down vehicle.

Remember. I had a car written off not so long ago when I had to stop at the side of a dual carriageway ten or so years back - I couldn't quite get it completely clear of the nearside lane. About 1/4 of the car was still in the lane.

It was hit within 30 seconds. I'd only managed to get out of the drivers door and round the front of the car when another driver smashed into it. As the vehicle that passed just before the impact was an HGV, I'm pretty sure that it was 'uncloaked' too late for the driver to react.
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Re: SMARTening motorways

Post by The Spin Doctor »

Horse wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:38 pm “However, there are individual risks within their operation that could be further reduced to improve safety and public confidence. We are determined to do all we can to make our roads as safe as possible, and we will take forward the measures set out by DfT,” said the annual report.[/i]

Luckily, the list of them was in the post.
No it wasn't. You just posted the list of ameliorative measures, NOT the areas in which they had been found to be MORE dangerous.
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