UK Smart Motorways government U-turn
23 Apr 23
Blood on their hands
According to Tony Diver in The Daily Telegraph, the strategy was first implemented in 2006 after Tony Blair's administration was informed that congestion was costing the nation £20 billion annually. nonetheless, widening highways would be considerably more expensive. A solution appeared to be smart roads, which could be built for only a sixth of the price per mile of new roadways. Even after being forewarned of the dangers, later governments persisted with their plans—even reducing the number of pull-in areas to further reduce costs—so that on the newest motorways, these only appear every 2.5 km.
According to Edmund King, president of the AA, in the same publication, "I have been posing a straightforward query to ministers for years." Would they rather have a breakdown on a road where they had a better chance of making it to a hard shoulder, or on one where they would have to hope that they wouldn't be seen in a live lane, hope that the control centre would trigger a warning, hope that a Red X would appear, and hope that other drivers would pay attention to it?
The sad irony is that smart highways don't even reduce traffic, in part because a third of drivers stay out of the inside lane out of concern about hitting a stopped car. The fact that this policy was ever implemented is scandalous, and those responsible have "blood on their hands."
Active traffic management
The proposal was supported by the government as a way to reduce traffic, and traffic managers reassured frightened drivers that they would be safe if they broke down in "thundering traffic" without access to a designated emergency spot thanks to "active traffic management" techniques like radar-based cameras and electronic signage.
But after a string of fatal accidents, the Government has finally realised its mistake. Last week, it announced that all of the proposals for additional smart motorways—a total of 14 schemes—will be scrapped. However, campaigners were never persuaded.
become clear," Oliver Duff wrote in The i Paper. At least 38 individuals were killed on these "death traps" in the five years leading up to 2020.
Then there are all the minor collisions and near misses; any driver who has had a tyre blow out at 70 mph can only image how terrible it would be to experience it on a road where the hard shoulder has been designated as the 'default lane for HGVs'. Now, activists are demanding that all currently built smart motorways be demolished as well.