Watchdog tells Highways England to up its game on safety

11/11/2019
Chris Ames

The head of the national transport consumer watchdog has called on Highways England to do more to improve the safety of ‘smart motorways’, including speeding up the roll-out of stopped vehicle detection.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said that although statistics suggest that smart motorway all lane running schemes are safer that traditional motorways, the government-owned company is ‘never going to win the statistics battle’.

He said Highways England should be ‘pushing much harder to install automatic stopped vehicle detection everywhere where you’ve got smart motorways’.

He added: ‘I think that will give a sense that the motorway is managed. If you do break down you’ll be spotted pretty instantly. The signs will change. There’s a sense that it’s a managed network and you’re in a safe environment – in addition to more refuge areas.’

Mr Smith said Highways England should also continue to communicate what to do if they break down anywhere but particularly on a smart motorway and ‘really communicating and making sure that prosecutions follow with red X issues – people driving under red Xs.’

He added: 'I think that debate will continue but Highways England has got to focus on those practical things.'

The Government is currently carrying out a review of smart motorways after recent controversies, including a number of fatalities caused by stationary vehicles being hit.

Attention has focused on the speed at which Highways England is meeting a pledge to roll out stopped vehicle detection and relatively low compliance rates for red X’s, which should close lanes in the event of an incident.

Highways England's chief executive Jim O'Sullivan recently told MPs that lives would have been saved if stopped vehicle detection had been in place on every smart motorway and all lane running schemes from the start.

Mr Smith also disclosed that Transport Focus plans to press Highways England soon to make sure that signs on its network are repaired and clearly visible, with vegetation obscuring signs ‘not an uncommon sight'.

He said: ‘That causes safety risks; people don’t know where they are going. They swerve, they get to the last minute before they can move.’

Highways jobs

Project Engineer – Scarborough or Whitby Area Office

£24,982 to £35,745
We have an exciting Project Engineer opportunity in our Scarborough or Whitby Highways Operational office. Scarborough, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Ice Rink Manager

£29,724 - £32,757
We are looking for a friendly and approachable person to join our management team, who can... Chelmsford, Essex
Recruiter: Chelmsford City Council

Safer Spaces Digital Evidence Officers

£25.137 - £26.520
Following a redesign of the service, we are now looking to appoint a number of exceptional candidates as Safer Spaces Digital Evidence Officers. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Safer Spaces Digital Evidence Supervisors

£30.585 - £31.557
Following a redesign of the service, we are now looking to appoint two experienced candidates as Safer Spaces Digital Evidence Supervisors. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Environment Improvement Officer

£24,982 - £27,041 per annum
For further information on the role please click. Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Assistant Director - Capital Projects, Building Services, Highways and Transport

£77,862 to £93,434 per annum
You will lead a diverse range of services and will be responsible for the delivery of an ambitious and varied Capital Programme of... Darlington, Durham
Recruiter: Darlington Borough Council

Senior Assistant Engineer (Network Management)

£32,234 to £34,728
There are 2 roles available and each role will be pivotal to the Council in delivering statutory duties which fall... Wirral, Merseyside
Recruiter: Wirral Borough Council

Team Leader (Network Development)

£37,890 to £40,876
Wirral is home to vibrant, energetic and engaged communities, people who... Wirral, Merseyside
Recruiter: Wirral Borough Council

Head of Clean and Green & Leisure

£73,632 - £80,024 per annum
Are you looking for an opportunity to apply your expertise to make a real difference? Walsall, West Midlands
Recruiter: Walsall Council

Assistant Project Engineer

£27,741 - £29,577 per annum
Do you have a passion for civil engineering and construction? Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Clerk of Works [JE1119]

£30,451 – £34,728
We are looking for a Clerk of Works to join our expanding team, supporting the Senior Engineers to deliver on... Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Recruiter: Milton Keynes Council

CPP Engineer

£19,698 to £35,745
We have developed a career progression pathway with four stages with a well-defined framework for... Cheshire
Recruiter: Wirral Borough Council

Senior HSEQ Advisor

£35,745
An exciting opportunity has arisen to join North Yorkshire County Council's Shared Health and Safety Service to... North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Service Change Officer - Street Scene

Competitive Salary
The Service Change Team supports Street Scene in improving and delivering high quality services to... Colindale, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Barnet London Borough Council

Information and Monitoring Officer

£26,025 - £38,616 per annum depending on skills
Would you like a role in shaping the planning policies of Richmond upon Thames and Wandsworth? London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Senior Officer - Parking

£35,745 - £40,876 per annum
As a Senior Parking Officer (Parking Enforcement) you will be responsible for managing parking contracts relating to the issue of... Sandwell, West Midlands
Recruiter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Senior Traffic Engineer

£39,880 - £42,821 per annum
This is an exciting opportunity for someone with excellent experience in Traffic Management and Engineering, or related discipline, to... Pembroke, Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)
Recruiter: Pembrokeshire County Council

Principal Highway Development Management Officer

£32,910
We seek an enthusiastic and experienced individual to join our small and busy team dealing with all aspects of highway development management. East Riding of Yorkshire
Recruiter: East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Transport & Parking Services Manager

£45,880 to £51,916 per annum
We are looking for a strategic, innovative, and performance-focused manager to lead our Parking Services team and as... Dover, Kent
Recruiter: Dover District Council

Graduate Bridge Engineer

£22,183 to £25,481 per annum
We are happy to consider all applicants at degree level as well as HND (level 5) higher apprentices. Taunton, Somerset
Recruiter: Somerset County Council

Highways Presents

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

 

Highways England takes on tunnels

Also inside:

  • Legal analysis: What the Brexit trade agreement means for you
  • Maintenance: The heavy-duty kit making light work
View the latest issue

Latest Video