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Police warning over use of hard shoulder for live traffic

motorwaynotorway at night

Live lane traffic incidents have increased on sections of the M25 where the hard shoulder has been used for running traffic, MPs have been told.

Metropolitan Police told the cross-party Transport Committee that there was also “clear evidence” of a “significant” rise in reported near misses.

The body was giving evidence to an inquiry into all-lane running, which has been introduced to sections of six motorways in the UK and is expected to be rolled out further.

“The Metropolitan Police Service must repeat its continued objection to all-lane running in its existing form,” warned the written submission.

“The significant risk (of collisions likely to lead to serious or fatal injury) it represents is insufficiently mitigated by the existing driver information signals and emergency refuge areas, which we feel are inadequate in both design and spacing.”

Metropolitan Police said that the overall number of road traffic collisions was likely to reduce when all-lane running was introduced. But it said this was mainly because of variable speed limits, which could be introduced without removing the hard shoulder.

“The type of collision that all agree will significantly increase – one resulting from a broken down vehicle in a live lane – is far more likely to result in serious injury or fatality than many of the collision types that are actually reduced,” it warned.

Highways England told the committee that collision rates had fallen by almost a fifth between junctions 23 and 27 of the M25 since all-lane running was introduced.

It added that by attracting vehicles to motorways, the scheme was keeping more traffic on the country’s safest roads.

Highways England said using all-lane running provided a 33% boost to capacity for 60% lower cost than traditional road widening.

“The smart motorways concept has evolved greatly,” it added.

“Not only has this evolution led to greater cost efficiency, it has also led to improved traffic flows and increased journey reliability for road users, while maintaining safety.

”It is clear that the concept has to continue to evolve and take advantage of technological advancement to continue to improve safety, improve our service to customers and to enable further step changes in efficiency.”






Readers' comments (1)

  • I think this is an interesting subject as people keep crashing and even dying in the new systems when they are overlain as an overhead and lateral complication to the old systems. (which is possibly seen by some technical readers as statistically acceptable).
    What all the words seem to miss is that in reality first time users of these schemes spend a lot of time distracted from the road by the novel environment, repeatedly looking UP at gantries no longer just for the speed limit but the cameras, and DOWN at car speedometers in close focus , a process that has known time delays , longer than the "thinking distance" needed for braking. This is time not spent monitoring brake lights in front or anything occurring in three mirrors and peripheral vision of basic Motorway driving. So its inherently introducing driver down-time assuming no other distractions in the vehicle cabin.
    The police report seems to focus on sanctioning the "speeders" but even capping this doesn't change the range of speeds at which different vehicles move, lane changing, and the problem of multi-vehicle near misses becoming primary and secondary collisions.

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