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New smart motorways see rise in serious collisions

Some not long ago upgraded sensible motorways have noticed a increase in critical collisions since...

smart motorway

Some not long ago upgraded sensible motorways have noticed a increase in critical collisions since becoming accomplished.

A recently posted report from Highways England covering 8 new sensible motorways exhibits that four observed critical collisions go up in their very first 12 months since becoming accomplished.

Stretches of road that observed rises in critical collisions – which Highways England describes as “one in which at the very least just one man or woman is critically hurt but no man or woman (other than a confirmed suicide) is killed” – incorporate the M25 (junctions 5 to 7 and 23 to 27), the M1 (junctions 39 to forty two), the M6 (junctions 10A to thirteen)

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In spite of this, deadly collisions lessened on 6 of the 8 sensible motorways, as did slight collisions. Deadly collisions remained at zero on just one road.

Nicholas Lyes, head of streets coverage at the RAC, known as the studies “very concerning”, telling the New Civil Engineer, which analysed the report: “The findings won’t be a shock to the bulk of motorists who feel the elimination of the tricky shoulder compromises safety in the event of a breakdown.”

Sensible motorways: breakdowns cause a month’s worth of lane closures

The news that dymanic sensible motorways will be shut down will come following investigate found that broken-down cars caused sensible motorway lanes to be shut for a lot more than a thirty day period about a two-12 months interval.

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From August 2017 to October 2019, motorway lanes ended up shut for 945 hours – equivalent to 39 days – among Junction 2 and Junction 4a of the M3 because of to cars breaking down in a live lane, in accordance to a Liberty of Details request to Highways England created by the AA.

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There ended up a overall of 2,227 breakdowns on the stretch of all-lane functioning (ALR) sensible motorways throughout the two-12 months interval, with just about every just one closing a lane for an typical of twenty five minutes.

Above the similar interval, there ended up 318 hours of delays caused by 271 website traffic collisions, with lanes becoming shut for an typical of just one hour and 10 minutes just about every time.

Other challenges – which includes obstructions, infrastructure flaws and fires – contributed to a overall of 2,802 incidents about the two-12 months interval and observed motorway lanes shut for a overall of 1,451 hours – or 60 days.

Incident kind

Quantity of incidents

Overall time shut (hours:minutes.seconds)

Regular closure time for every incident (hours:minutes.seconds)



945:twenty five.27

00:twenty five.28

Site visitors collision







00:twenty five.forty six


eighty four



Infrastructure defect


forty six:19.29




forty five:forty five.36


Animal on community




Deserted car or truck




Pedestrian on community








Suicide/attempted suicide




Climate circumstances







00:twenty five.37

Bettering safety was not a “primary goal” for sensible motorways, files reveal

Bettering road safety was not a “most important objective” when sensible motorways ended up very first introduced, in accordance to a report generated in 2012 by the Highways Company – Highways England’s predecessor – which regarded the provision of more unexpected emergency refuge spots (ERAs) encompassing a fatality hotspot on the M1 north of Nottingham.

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The doc said: “The most important aims for the plan do not incorporate improving safety and the road consumer safety objective is to guarantee that the plan is no considerably less safe than the safety baseline.”

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The AA, which uncovered the doc, criticised this objective for becoming “unambitious and complacent”.

The report exhibits the Highways Company understood there was a threat that the amount of cars halting in live lanes would boost, and established out two choices to mitigate this. The very first would have noticed the amount of ERAs on the stretch of road amplified from 8 to 10 and an typical spacing of 1,543 metres, at a cost of among £0.35m and £0.7m.

The next selection was to boost the amount of ERAs to 14 and an typical spacing of 1,304 metres, costing £1m to £2m. The report explained both of these choices would outcome in a “small web decrease in threat to road users”, but in spite of this no motion was taken.

With an typical of 2,five hundred metres spacing, the Highways Company believed among twenty five.ninety nine for every cent and 26.1 for every cent breakdowns would take place in live lanes in fact, the recent price on this sort of stretches is as substantial as 38 for every cent.

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According to the AA, there ended up 5 fatalities on the 16-mile stretch of the M1 among junctions 30 and 35a from September 2018 to December 2019.

Exceptional: Sensible motorway speed cameras offer you 60-next grace interval

Motorists utilizing sensible motorways have 60 seconds to decrease their speed following a reduction in the variable speed restrict is shown on the overhead gantries, Automobile Categorical can reveal. After the just one-moment grace interval, speed cameras start off enforcement at the new signposted restrict.

Responding to a Liberty of Details (FoI) request, Highways England – the Government-owned organization that runs England’s Strategic Highway Community of motorways and significant A streets – confirmed that motorists are presented a just one-moment grace interval.

“Following a adjust in the speed shown by indicators there is a 60-next ‘grace period’ in advance of HADECS3 cameras start off enforcement, supplying time for motorists to adapt to the new mandatory speed restrict, especially when speed restrictions are diminished because of to gradual-transferring or queuing website traffic up forward,” the organisation explained. “This gives motorists time to gradual down and cuts down the need for braking sharply.”

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Sensible motorways have a default speed restrict of 70mph, but Highways England is able to reduce the restrict to 60, 50 or 40mph when operatives deem it needed. When this happens, the new restrict is shown on overhead gantries and enforced by HADECS3 speed cameras, often referred to colloquially as “stealth” cameras because of to their becoming little, gray units that are considerably harder to location than that greater yellow Gatso and Truvelo cameras employed somewhere else.

Sensible motorways: breakdown restoration companies won’t cease for cars in shut ‘red X’ lanes

Recovery companies are not authorized to cease and help motorists whose cars have broken down on sensible motorway lanes that have been shut with ‘red X’ indicators. As an alternative, personnel from companies like the AA, Environmentally friendly Flag and RAC need to wait around for law enforcement or Highways England cars to physically shut the lane or tow the car or truck to a refuge area, in accordance to formal steerage.

The ‘best practice guidelines’ from the Survive Group – shaped of senior law enforcement officers, Highways England and all significant restoration companies – claims breakdown operatives need to “Never get the job done in a live lane of a motorway lane except if the lane has been shut by a Law enforcement car or truck, HE [Highways England] Site visitors Officer car or truck or Impact Security Car…Do not count on a crimson X closure indication.”

Though it is unlawful to travel in shut ‘red X’ lanes, one hundred eighty,000 motorists acquired warning letters in the 18 months among 2017 and summer months 2018 for the offence – which is now enforced by cameras and results in three penalty points and a £100 great. 

The news follows a damning Highways England report becoming unearthed by the AA, which located breaking down in the live lane of a sensible motorway throughout off-peak hours is 216 for every cent a lot more perilous than performing so on a standard motorway.

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