Survey suggests public unconvinced by smart motorway safety

26/09/2016
Highways Reporters

Eight out of 10 drivers think that the removal of hard-shoulders on smart motorways has made motorways more dangerous than four years ago, according to an AA Populus poll of 20,845 drivers. 

The motoring organisation says some drivers even refer to the lay-bys on these motorways as ‘death zones’.

The AA says it raised concerns over smart motorway safety in a recent letter to the new Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling MP. Prior to that the AA raised the issue with the Road Safety Minister, Highways England CEO and the Transport Select Committee.

It says t he main concern is the lack of lay-bys when the hard-shoulder is used as a running lane for the 130,000 AA members (and thousands of others) who breakdown on motorways each year. The Highways England guidance is for the Emergency Refuge Areas (ERA) to be no more than 2.6km apart (approx 1.5 miles) whereas the AA would like to see at least twice as many lay-bys and they should be twice the length.

“If a car breaks down without sight of a lay-by it is likely to stop in a live running lane where it will be at increased risk of being hit from behind,” the AA says in a statement. “If an HGV is parked up in the lay-by it makes it almost impossible for a car to safely enter the lay-by.”

Highways England has also reported a problem of drivers (in particular foreign trucks) parking in the ERAs when it is not an emergency. Some officials believe that a clearer name is needed for the lay-bys. When given selected names in the AA Populus poll, the most popular was Emergency Breakdown Area (49%), Emergency Refuge Area (21%) and Breakdown Area (9%).

Commenting, Edmund King OBE, AA president, said: “Four fifths of our members think that motorways without hard shoulders are more dangerous. Whilst we support measures to improve motorway capacity, we do not think that safety should be compromised. We do not accept that the current criteria of an Emergency Refuge Area or exit at least every 2.6km is safe.

“Breaking down in a live running lane with trucks thundering up behind you is every driver’s worst nightmare. The official advice is to dial 999 which just shows how dangerous the situation can be.

“If drivers can see the next lay-by, they are much more likely to make it to the relative safety of that area even if their car has a puncture or is overheating. If they can’t see the lay-by, they often panic and stop in a live running lane. If more lay-bys are designed at the planning stage it will be less expensive and safer.

“Unprompted, our members came up with some scary names for the Emergency Refuge Areas – which indicates just how worried they are. It is time for the government to go back to the drawing board and design a scheme acceptable to drivers.”

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Also Inside:

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


Highways jobs

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

Specialist Operative

£22,571 - £24,920
We are seeking a highly motivated staff member to join our fast paced and high performing Specialisms Team. Barnsley, South Yorkshire
Recruiter: Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Specialist Operative (2 posts)

£22,571 - £24,920
We are seeking a highly motivated staff member to join our fast paced and high performing Street Cleansing team within Neighbourhood Services. Barnsley, South Yorkshire
Recruiter: Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Road and Street Works Professional Assistant

£29,174 - £32,798
This is an exciting opportunity to join our Highway Network Management Section as a Road & Street Works Professional Assistant. Your normal place of work will be County Hall, you may be required to work at any Council workplace
Recruiter: Durham County Council

Technician - Maintenance Programmes (3 Posts)

£23,657- £25,568
This is an exciting time to join our in-house Highways Service as we move onto the delivery phase of our Future Highways Model. Matlock, Derbyshire
Recruiter: Derbyshire County Council

Structures Design - Senior Technician (2 Posts)

£29,184 - £32,389
These positions provide an exciting opportunity to develop how Derbyshire’s highway network is managed and developed in the future. Matlock, Derbyshire
Recruiter: Derbyshire County Council

Structures Design - Senior Technician

£26,204 - £28,113
These positions provide an exciting opportunity to develop how Derbyshire’s highway network is managed and developed in the future. Matlock, Derbyshire
Recruiter: Derbyshire County Council

Senior Project Engineer - Highways Construction

£42,513 - £46,156
Derbyshire County Council are looking for an experienced and enthusiastic Senior Project Engineer. Matlock, Derbyshire
Recruiter: Derbyshire County Council

Contract Manager – Highways Construction

£33,489 - £36,788
Derbyshire County Council are looking for an experienced Contract Manager to join our progressive and ambitious Highways Construction Service. Matlock, Derbyshire
Recruiter: Derbyshire County Council

Development Management Officer

£36,371 – £37,568
We are looking for a civil engineer or person willing to train as a civil engineer. Cumbria
Recruiter: Cumbria County Council

Highways Presents

 

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Video