Smart Motorways, Dumb DriversPosted: Tue 20 April, 2021
I see today that the UK has decided to stop any new “Smart Motorway” projects, insisting that they need extra safety precautions. This is primarily the aftermath of coroner’s reports into certain fatal accidents on these Smart Motorways.
From the article…
- In 2019, 15 people were killed on “all lane running” and “dynamic hard shoulder” motorways. This is four more deaths than in 2018.
- The number of people being killed on motorways without hard shoulders increased each year from 2015 to 2019, and totalled 39 deaths.
- By contrast, on so-called “controlled motorways” – a type of smart motorway which have variable speed limits and a hard shoulder – there were 24 deaths in that period.
- On conventional motorways, which cover more of the UK than smart motorways, there were 368 fatalities from 2015 to 2019.
The M1 around where I live was one of the first Smart Motorways, and I’ve written a lot about how stupid people can be on those motorways – particularly about the availability of lanes, and a lack of general driving standards (Middle-lane cunts and the like)
From my experience, a lot of drivers seem to be incapable of reading road signs saying whether a lane is open or closed (although also even whether the approaching junction is the one they want or not, until the absolute last minute) This also seems to be borne out by the latest rash of road-safety adverts telling people that they should ‘go left’ in case of problems on motorways (and fucking hell, in my opinion anyone who needs to be told this shouldn’t be in possession of a driving licence!)
As an example of this, one of the cases the coroners were looking at was one local to me where the person’s vehicle had a problem, showed the ‘engine problem’ warning light, and they pulled in to one of the emergency refuge areas. Now, when that happened to me, I got out of the car (in a snowy January) and called recovery to get me off the road safely. But not this twerd, oh no. They gave it a few minutes, started the car, no light came on, so they pulled out to continue their journey. (The ‘engine problem’ light doesn’t necessarily immediately light up on starting – for example, if the issue is to do with the turbo, the EGR valve, air filter etc., it’ll only come on when you accelerate over a certain rpm limit, at which point you’re shafted) And that’s what happened to Twonktacular – the light came back on, the engine performance disappeared, and they got hit by another vehicle. Yet somehow that’s the fault of the smart motorway, not the dumbass driver.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge fan of motorways without hard-shoulders. And I’m sure there are considerations and gambles that have been taken about how people get to emergency refuge areas, how the road monitoring is managed/staffed and so on. But I also understand how impractical it is, with current traffic levels and so on, to have a quarter of each road surface only available to vehicles in emergencies.
All told, I don’t believe that Smart Motorways are inherently dangerous. I think drivers (and their decisions, or lack thereof) are far more dangerous than roads. You just can’t blame an inanimate road for human stupidity.