Concerns raised about smart motorways

23/02/2016
Highways Reporters

Parliament’s Transport Select Committee has received reports of concerns about some aspects of smart motorways.

It’s published a number of written submissions on its website after asking for views on a number of issues including the impact of all-lane running on safety, effectiveness of managing capacity and congestion and the implication on further developments.

Feedback was negative when it came to the distance between refuge areas, suggesting every two and a half miles was too far, while also questioning frequency of gantries.

It was also noted that some foreign lorry drivers were using refuge areas as parking places.

The AA is concerned about breakdowns in lane one saying it believes that the risk to a vehicle broken down in lane one in the dark is too great to accept, particularly as incident detection systems do not detect queues when traffic flow is light.

However ITS (UK)’s evidence pointed out that ‘all lane running’ schemes appear to be effective in both reducing fatalities and serious/slight injury road collisions whilst simultaneously improving traffic flow through more effective management of congestion at peak times. ITS technologies and policies are integral to many of these schemes and provide early notification of spontaneous incidents (ie collisions) or developing incidents (ie congestion through excess traffic flow). This then enables pro-active interventions to be initiated – either automatically or by a control room operator who has made an assessment of the situation in hand. ITS systems will then support the incident management and will assist in the restoration of normal traffic flow patterns. In such a manner ITS is crucial in ensuring that ‘all lane running’ schemes are effective and efficient.

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