Smart Motorways: RHA welcomes update

The RHA has welcomed the Smart Motorway Stocktake update by the Department for Transport, highlighting that safety is key.

13th May 2022 8:37 AM

We have welcomed both the investment programme and the pause of the All Lane Running to gather safety data.

Our key points are around safety and the realistic aim of achieving journeys that are congestion free and have reliable, consistent and predictable journey times.

Update

It comes as National Highways released its update on the scheme, stating it was on course to upgrade almost 100 safety cameras and add signage to inform drivers of the distance to the next place to stop in the event of a mechanical problem or emergency.

It is also on track to complete the roll-out of radar-based technology that can spot a stopped or broken-down vehicle on over 200 miles of All Lane Running (ALR) motorway by the end of September 2022.

The report confirms National Highways is on course to complete the roll-out of this safety equipment and technology by the end of September 2022.

ALR pause

In January, the Department for Transport and National Highways agreed to pause the roll-out of new ALR schemes until five years of safety and economic data is available.

The pause will enable the Government to make informed decisions about enhancing capacity on the strategic road network. It was also announced £390 million would be spent on new emergency areas or other places to stop in an emergency.

They are fitted with technology and features not seen on conventional motorways such as emergency areas (EAs) set-back from the carriageway, radar-based Stopped Vehicle Detection (SVD) and Red X signals on gantries to close live lanes.

The report states it has:

  • Upgraded 96% (92 out of 95) of enforcement cameras on smart motorways so they can be used to automatically detect vehicles passing under a Red X or entering a lane beyond a Red X. This potentially allows police to issue £100 fines to drivers without having to spot them in the act, as was the case previously;
  • Installed more than 330 additional signs to better inform drivers of the distance to the next place to stop in an emergency. By the end of September 2022 drivers will almost always be able to see a sign informing them of the distance to the next place to stop in an emergency;
  • Worked to put SVD technology in place on more than 100 miles of ALR smart motorways. The technology is able to send alerts to National Highways’ control rooms which are then investigated by its operators.

Good progress

Nick Harris, National Highways’ Chief Executive, said: “It is now two years since the Transport Secretary first published the smart motorway stocktake and today’s report shows that we are making good progress delivering on these ambitious recommendations. But we are not complacent.

“The latest data shows that, overall, in terms of serious or fatal casualties, smart motorways are our safest roads. We are continuing our work to make them our safest roads in every way. We will continue to build on the work already undertaken and continue to put safety first to help ensure drivers have confidence in the motorway network.”