National Highways panned over smart motorway secrecy

20/06/2022
Chris Ames

National Highways has refused to disclose the outcome of a project testing computer analysis of CCTV images for stopped vehicle detection (SVD) on smart motorways - but implicitly conceded the idea is not being taken forward.

In January 2021, Highways reported that Highways England, as it was known, has met a pledge in its Delivery Plan to ‘identify the viability of using our CCTV coverage on smart motorways to provide another option alongside stopped vehicle detection’.

At that time, the government-owned company said it was ‘considering the findings’ of what it said was a large-scale trial.

Its recent second-year progress report on the 2020 smart motorways confirmed that the trial had been carried out on the M4 near Bristol, but stated: ‘We remain committed to installing radar SVD technology as our primary approach for stopped vehicle detection on existing ALR schemes by end of September 2022.’

It added: ‘In line with our company approach for continuous improvement, we will continue to review and, where possible, improve how we identify stopped vehicles.’

The document also reveals that when vehicles stop on the motorway casualty rates are lower on motorways with a permanent hard shoulder than those without one.

In response to an enquiry from Highways, National Highways refused to state the outcome of the trial or whether anything from it was being taken forward but said it was ‘committed to trialling alternative solutions to detect stopped vehicles [and] considering a number of different potential solutions and working with the supply chain, including integrated CCTV analytics’.

Industry insiders said that with road users’ confidence in the safety of smart motorways ‘still at a low ebb’ it would be helpful if National Highways was more open with its analysis and pilot schemes.

National Highways says its radar-based SVD currently works to – and exceeds – a benchmark of detecting 80% of stopped vehicles but recent serious incidents on the M4 and M3 have followed failures of its systems to close lanes.

In December 2019, Highways England’s chief engineer, Mike Wilson, described the system in a letter to a coroner as ‘a radar system which detects stopped vehicles in low flow conditions’.

He added: ‘We are exploring other technologies which could reduce the risk to stopped vehicles in higher flow conditions.’

One of the potential issues with using CCTV to detect stopped vehicles is that, although National Highways says it provides 100% coverage of smart motorways, it is tilt, point and zoom technology and cannot therefore cover the whole network at the same time.

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Also Inside:

  • Buying better roads
  • Coming clean on carbon
View the latest issue


Highways jobs

Planning Strategy & Implementation Manager

£57621 - £61410 per annum
Planning Strategy & Implementation Manager Permanent, Full Time £57,621 to £61,410 per annum Location
Recruiter: Essex County Council

Yard supervisor - NY Highways (Boroughbridge)

£29,162 to £31,540
Are you a Yard Supervisor or ex-military personnel looking for a new role and the opportunity become a central part of NY Highways? Boroughbridge, York
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Skilled Operatives - Boroughbridge (NY Highways)

£22,994 - £26,413
We are looking for motivated and enthusiastic Skilled Operatives to join our Highways teams based at the Boroughbridge depot. North Yorkshire / Countywide
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Fleet Transport Manager

£43,570 - £47,665
You will be a highly motivated experienced and professional manager. Blackburn, Lancashire
Recruiter: Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

Senior Project Manager

£47,523 - £52,402
The role of this post is to oversee the project management, development and implementation of the County Council's Major Transport Projects. Leicester, Leicestershire
Recruiter: Leicestershire County Council

Site Supervisor / Ganger - NY Highways

£29,162
At NY Highways, 'who you are' matters. We want to get to know you. North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Transport Planning Apprentice

£18,891
To work in various sections of the Department as assigned to gain experience in Transport Planning. Leicester, Leicestershire
Recruiter: Leicestershire County Council

Highways Structures Manager

£43,910 to £50,504
City of York Council are excited to announce that they are seeking a Highways Structures Manager. York, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of York Council

HGV Driver (Refuse Vehicle) Hexham

£20,444 - £22,129
You will have overall responsibility for the careful use and maintenance of the vehicle and allocated tools and equipment. Northumberland
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

Inspector

£28,226 - £30,095
The Street Works Team currently has a vacancy for a Street Works Inspector. Cambridgeshire, Various places-working out of office base.
Recruiter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Assistant Streetworks and Permitting Officer

£21,269 - £23,953
Do you want to make a difference to how Street Works are managed within Lincolnshire? Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Recruiter: Lincolnshire County Council

Principal Engineer (ITS and Sustainable Travel Infrastructure)

From £38,553 to £53,378 per annum (Grade KL)
This is an exciting opportunity for an experienced engineer to lead the Council’s ITS and sustainable travel infrastructure team. Berkshire
Recruiter: West Berkshire Council

Trainee Inspection and Enforcement Officer

£24,225-£32,091
We are looking to recruit four enthusiastic trainee Inspectors and one Network Co-ordinator. Richmond upon Thames, London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Sign Services & Traffic Management Operative

£20,856 - £22,131
To work as part of a team to deliver a best value, customer-focussed service throughout Leicestershire. Leicestershire
Recruiter: Leicestershire County Council

Senior Engineer

£62,905 - £69,137
In Jersey we are at the dawn of a new era. Jersey (GB) (JE)
Recruiter: Government of Jersey

Assistant Fleet Manager - Operations

£38,553 to £42,614
An exciting and fantastic opportunity has arisen for an Assistant Fleet Manager (Operations). Northumberland
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

Workshop Engineer

£29,427.69 - £31,776.90
The Fleet team at City of York Council have an exciting opportunity for an HGV mechanic to join a strong team. York, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of York Council

NEAT Team Operative/Driver (Stakeford)

£19,650 - £20,043
You will provide an efficient and effective street cleansing, public convenience and grounds-maintenance service Northumberland
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

Senior Transport Planner

£34,373 - £40,578
It is an exciting time to join the Highways Service at Rochdale Council. Rochdale, Greater Manchester
Recruiter: Rochdale BC

Group Leader Highway Development Control

£43,570- £49,705
An exciting opportunity has arisen in the Environment and Technical Division, NSPPP for a Highway Development Control Officer. Torfaen (Tor-faen)
Recruiter: Torfaen County Borough Council

Highways Presents

 

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Video