Smart motorways and sleepless nights

 

Emily Hyde of International Transport Specialists JJX Logistics Ltd explains that many of the company's highly trained drivers have raised concerns regarding the safety of smart motorways.

Our drivers are not alone in taking issue with the smart motorway concept, as removal of the hard-shoulder on sections of our arterials and narrowing of lanes to get more vehicles on the roadway poses serious safety concerns.

Drivers of commercial vehicles, as well as the general road-user, have to concentrate harder when using sections that are deemed ‘smart’. There is little margin for error, because:

  • removal of hard shoulders, with only infrequent emergency stopping points, means drivers must be careful to check for any stationary / stranded vehicle ahead, blocking a lane.
  • the narrowed lanes mean even a ‘tap’ by a vehicle in an adjacent lane, could cause serious a serious accident, resulting in collision and road blockage.

The concerns regarding smart motorways have been raised by motoring groups, transport trade associations, and the general public. The BBC reported these concerns for a special edition of their Panorama programme, which found 38 people have been killed on smart motorways in the last five years.

The reports prompted a government review, which conceded there were issues and laid out an action plan for improvements. However, the central programme for all lane running motorways continues and for many, so do the safety concerns.

At JJX Logistics, we experienced a ‘near-miss’ ourselves on 13 May 2020, on a section of Cheshire’s M6 that is a designated smart motorway.(Before and after picture below).

”Local

The local press and the police reported the incident, which caused part of the M6 in Cheshire to be closed, with congestion backed up for four miles as a result. 

Our driver, Julie, was carrying Dangerous Goods under ADR regulations, which could have resulted in a far more serious incident than if she were carrying ambient / non-hazardous goods.

Julie, a well-trained professional, unfortunately broke down and had no power to the vehicle to safely reach the services.

She pulled over in the van as far as physically possible on this smart-motorway, with her hazard lights flashing. As there is no hard shoulder on smart motorways this meant she was stuck, partially in a live lane.

Moments after safely exiting the vehicles and positioning herself out of harm's way, an articulated lorry ploughed into our vehicle pushing it up the embankment and ripping the back half of the van clean off, including the goods on board. If it wasn’t for Julie’s actions this incident could have been tragic.

Thankfully, no one was hurt and the chemicals remained contained within their packaging.

The Cheshire Motorway Police and Emergency services acted robustly and two lanes were closed for several hours as order was restored.

At JJX Logistics we term this incident as a 'near miss', the type of thing that causes sleepless nights for managing director John Donovan.

He echoes the sentiments of AA President Edmund King who has previously stated smart motorways were 'a scandal, dangerous and not fit for purpose'. The AA were more conciliatory after the Government's action plan but for many it did not go far enough.

While action is now being taken to improve safety on some routes (and stopped vehicle detection is being rolled out across the smart motorway network - though it has not been perfected yet), some smart motorways may effectively operate unchanged. Is this not a scandal?

Mr Donovan said: 'This incident happened in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, surely with the reduced traffic on the roads a hard shoulder should have been available.'

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
highways jobs

Commercial Vehicle Technician

Chelmsford City Council
£30,000 per annum
We are seeking a fully trained HGV technician to work as part of the team who maintain the Council's fleet to the highest standards.  Chelmsford, Essex
Recuriter: Chelmsford City Council

Environmental Protection Officer x2

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£24,313 - £28,785 per annum
You will also be required to undertake a basic DBS check if successful. Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Head of Operations

Rossendale Borough Council
£49,408 - £52,899
Our Operations Service is the largest single service at Rossendale Council and one of the most important. Rossendale, Lancashire
Recuriter: Rossendale Borough Council

Business Support Officer - Environmental Health - up to 2 jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£18,795 - £19,171
You will be part of a small team providing business and administrative support in the Environmental Service which is made up of... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Civil Enforcement Officer

Northumberland County Council
£21,589 - £23,836
Civil Enforcement Officers required for Berwick, Morpeth, Blyth and Hexham areas. Berwick, Morpeth, Blyth and Hexham areas
Recuriter: Northumberland County Council

Chief Executive

Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council
Package to £149k
Seeking applications from impressive, broadspectrum leaders, with a close and agile understanding of the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Basingstoke, Hampshire
Recuriter: Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council

Director, Place & Environment

Walsall Council
Up to £81,647 - £94,208 + benefits
Put your all into Walsall Walsall, West Midlands
Recuriter: Walsall Council

Development Management Engineer

Warwickshire County Council
£37,849 - £39,782 per annum
The successful applicant for this post will be capable of taking the lead on work within... Warwick, Warwickshire
Recuriter: Warwickshire County Council

Highways and Traffic Management Group Manager

Plymouth City Council
£43,662 – £48,497
Are you looking for an exciting opportunity to lead a high performing, friendly and dynamic team Highways Team? Plymouth, Devon
Recuriter: Plymouth City Council

Apprentice Gas Heating Engineer

City of York Council
£12,443.89 per annum
You will work within the Heating Team (Building Services) and with other teams to deliver a Heating Repairs Service to the residents of York. York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council

Chair of the Board of Directors - Norwich City Services

Norwich City Council
£10,000 per annum
Join Norwich City Services Ltd and transform the way we look after our city and our people. Norwich, Norfolk
Recuriter: Norwich City Council

2x Environmental Health Officer

Dacorum Borough Council
Up to £42,336
We are seeking to appoint two qualified Environmental Health Officers to work within our Environmental Health Team Dacorum, Hertfordshire
Recuriter: Dacorum Borough Council

Country Parks Trading Officer

Northumberland County Council
£21,589 - £23,836
Countryside Parks Trading Officer Country Parks including Druridge Bay
Recuriter: Northumberland County Council

Support Office (Back Office Systems)

North West Leicestershire District Council
Band E, £25,295- £28,785
An opportunity to develop and manage back office systems for Environmental Protection, Development Control, Environmental Health and Building Control. Coalville, Leicestershire
Recuriter: North West Leicestershire District Council

Head of Environmental Services

City of York Council
Grade 12 Level 1- 4 £49,275 to £59,079 (basic pay plus a supplement up to £59,079)
Want to Live and Work in the Best City? York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council

Operational Manager - 2 Jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£48,172 - £49,047
This role is based within The Environment Service within the Directorate of Economy and Infrastructure. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Relief Minibus Driver

North Yorkshire County Council
£17,711
We are looking for a caring, flexible and committed person to help us provide this transport. Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Principal Transport Officer (Policy)

St. Helens Metropolitan Borough Council
£38,813 To £40,760 per annum
This is an exciting opportunity for an energetic and motivated individual to drive forward transport policy to... St Helens, Merseyside
Recuriter: St. Helens Metropolitan Borough Council

Traffic Management Leader

City of York Council
£35,500 to £40,710 per annum
City of York Council have an exciting opportunity for an experienced transport professional to lead our Traffic Team. York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council

Traffic Project Officer

City of York Council
£26,875 to £29,783 per annum
City of York Council have a great opportunity for a Projects Officer to join our busy Traffic Team. York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council