The future of smart motorways

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Osthagen
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Osthagen » Fri Sep 17, 2021 12:23

XC70 wrote:
Tue Sep 14, 2021 16:21
Smart motorways could work I guess, if only HE operated then with some basic level of competence.
I've lived in Britain long enough to know that 'Highways England' (or any British transport authority) and 'competence' aren't compatible in the same sentence.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Stevie D » Sun Sep 19, 2021 16:08

XC70 wrote:
Tue Sep 14, 2021 16:21
Smart motorways could work I guess, if only HE operated then with some basic level of competence.
A key point would be not to use a wicket gate symbol showing a specific lane being closed on MS4s as a generic symbol meaning a lane, unspecified is closed ahead. Cue all the conscientious drivers seeing a message purporting to show that the left hand lane is closed, long queue, long queue, still in a long queue, some drivers are now ignoring the earlier signs as none of the subsequent signs have mentioned lane 1 being closed, and then we get to the incident and it turns out it is the right-hand lanes that are closed.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by booshank » Sun Sep 19, 2021 18:43

thatapanydude wrote:
Fri Sep 10, 2021 11:45
Owain wrote:
Tue Aug 31, 2021 16:18
Which reminds me of a strange and potentially dangerous experience on the M1 last week:

- Signage came on imposing 40 limit.
- Signage also closed lanes 1 and 2, causing traffic to move over to 3 and 4. I moved to lane 3 and got caught behind a car that was doing a bit less than 40.

Traffic was light. After cruising along like this for some time, with just one or two cars passing us in lane 4, I noticed a tsunami of vehicles approaching at speed across all of the lanes behind us. One van even dived from lane 3 into lane 1 and undertook both me and the car in front at roughly double our speed, presumably because the flow in lane 4 wasn't fast enough for him.

Only when the next gantry came into sight did I realise what must have happened; the lower limit and lane closure signs must have been switched off just after I'd passed the last gantry, leaving me driving ridiculously slowly in the wrong lane without knowing that the restrictions had been lifted until the next gantry came into view.

I appreciate that there isn't much that can be done about such a situation, and also that such a situation will only affect a small number of vehicles for a few seconds, but it still struck me as being yet another reason for not driving on these roads if they can be avoided.
I have experienced similar too when following the speed limit signed on the M25 while cars left and right of us were racing along because the gantry did not have a speed camera !! It seems like on the M25 J23-J27 that the regulars don't follow the speed limit and just break for the camera's - which can catch out law-abiding drivers.

To rectify this issue I would add camera's to all gantries and have them made average speed camera's to NSL or the displayed limit. Yes this is not ideal or fun one bit especially as someone who is happy cruising at 80mph but safety comes first.
Yeah don't get why average speed cameras are rarely used in England, apart from motorway roadworks. Where they are they are highly effective - almost all vehicles travel at the same speed, traffic is more evenly distributed across lanes to make full use of the road, lane changing is minimised and throughput maximised. I find it a lot less stressful to drive like that in heavy traffic as you can just follow the other vehicles along at an appropriate distance - no sudden braking, lane changes, bunching etc.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Bryn666 » Sun Sep 19, 2021 18:46

Stevie D wrote:
Sun Sep 19, 2021 16:08
XC70 wrote:
Tue Sep 14, 2021 16:21
Smart motorways could work I guess, if only HE operated then with some basic level of competence.
A key point would be not to use a wicket gate symbol showing a specific lane being closed on MS4s as a generic symbol meaning a lane, unspecified is closed ahead. Cue all the conscientious drivers seeing a message purporting to show that the left hand lane is closed, long queue, long queue, still in a long queue, some drivers are now ignoring the earlier signs as none of the subsequent signs have mentioned lane 1 being closed, and then we get to the incident and it turns out it is the right-hand lanes that are closed.
That shouldn't be happening - the MS4s are perfectly capable of showing which lane is closed so this sounds like operational cock-up than a limitation of the software. Even MS1s from 1969 can show which lanes are closed accurately.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by EpicChef » Sun Sep 19, 2021 21:56

Bryn666 wrote:
Sun Sep 19, 2021 18:46
Stevie D wrote:
Sun Sep 19, 2021 16:08
XC70 wrote:
Tue Sep 14, 2021 16:21
Smart motorways could work I guess, if only HE operated then with some basic level of competence.
A key point would be not to use a wicket gate symbol showing a specific lane being closed on MS4s as a generic symbol meaning a lane, unspecified is closed ahead. Cue all the conscientious drivers seeing a message purporting to show that the left hand lane is closed, long queue, long queue, still in a long queue, some drivers are now ignoring the earlier signs as none of the subsequent signs have mentioned lane 1 being closed, and then we get to the incident and it turns out it is the right-hand lanes that are closed.
That shouldn't be happening - the MS4s are perfectly capable of showing which lane is closed so this sounds like operational cock-up than a limitation of the software. Even MS1s from 1969 can show which lanes are closed accurately.
This. The issue is I wouldn't put it past NH to hire incompetent RCC staff.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Bendo » Mon Sep 20, 2021 00:15

booshank wrote:
Sun Sep 19, 2021 18:43
thatapanydude wrote:
Fri Sep 10, 2021 11:45
Owain wrote:
Tue Aug 31, 2021 16:18
Which reminds me of a strange and potentially dangerous experience on the M1 last week:

- Signage came on imposing 40 limit.
- Signage also closed lanes 1 and 2, causing traffic to move over to 3 and 4. I moved to lane 3 and got caught behind a car that was doing a bit less than 40.

Traffic was light. After cruising along like this for some time, with just one or two cars passing us in lane 4, I noticed a tsunami of vehicles approaching at speed across all of the lanes behind us. One van even dived from lane 3 into lane 1 and undertook both me and the car in front at roughly double our speed, presumably because the flow in lane 4 wasn't fast enough for him.

Only when the next gantry came into sight did I realise what must have happened; the lower limit and lane closure signs must have been switched off just after I'd passed the last gantry, leaving me driving ridiculously slowly in the wrong lane without knowing that the restrictions had been lifted until the next gantry came into view.

I appreciate that there isn't much that can be done about such a situation, and also that such a situation will only affect a small number of vehicles for a few seconds, but it still struck me as being yet another reason for not driving on these roads if they can be avoided.
I have experienced similar too when following the speed limit signed on the M25 while cars left and right of us were racing along because the gantry did not have a speed camera !! It seems like on the M25 J23-J27 that the regulars don't follow the speed limit and just break for the camera's - which can catch out law-abiding drivers.

To rectify this issue I would add camera's to all gantries and have them made average speed camera's to NSL or the displayed limit. Yes this is not ideal or fun one bit especially as someone who is happy cruising at 80mph but safety comes first.
Yeah don't get why average speed cameras are rarely used in England, apart from motorway roadworks. Where they are they are highly effective - almost all vehicles travel at the same speed, traffic is more evenly distributed across lanes to make full use of the road, lane changing is minimised and throughput maximised. I find it a lot less stressful to drive like that in heavy traffic as you can just follow the other vehicles along at an appropriate distance - no sudden braking, lane changes, bunching etc.
My experience is the opposite. Frequently sat behind people doing significantly less than the speed limit with traffic brunching up as a result and people getting frustrated going for marginal undertakes as they know full well they can travel significantly faster.

Average speed cameras would just cause more chaos, not to mention making enforcement more difficult when the limit changes when a car is midway between a pair.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by booshank » Mon Sep 20, 2021 23:00

Bendo wrote:
Mon Sep 20, 2021 00:15
booshank wrote:
Sun Sep 19, 2021 18:43
thatapanydude wrote:
Fri Sep 10, 2021 11:45


I have experienced similar too when following the speed limit signed on the M25 while cars left and right of us were racing along because the gantry did not have a speed camera !! It seems like on the M25 J23-J27 that the regulars don't follow the speed limit and just break for the camera's - which can catch out law-abiding drivers.

To rectify this issue I would add camera's to all gantries and have them made average speed camera's to NSL or the displayed limit. Yes this is not ideal or fun one bit especially as someone who is happy cruising at 80mph but safety comes first.
Yeah don't get why average speed cameras are rarely used in England, apart from motorway roadworks. Where they are they are highly effective - almost all vehicles travel at the same speed, traffic is more evenly distributed across lanes to make full use of the road, lane changing is minimised and throughput maximised. I find it a lot less stressful to drive like that in heavy traffic as you can just follow the other vehicles along at an appropriate distance - no sudden braking, lane changes, bunching etc.
My experience is the opposite. Frequently sat behind people doing significantly less than the speed limit with traffic brunching up as a result and people getting frustrated going for marginal undertakes as they know full well they can travel significantly faster.

Average speed cameras would just cause more chaos, not to mention making enforcement more difficult when the limit changes when a car is midway between a pair.
Maybe it's a regional thing? I've only experienced it on the M4 in England in roadworks and in South Wales and it's worked really well in my opinion. But then traffic seems to flow much better on the smart part of the M4 between the M32 and M5 than it did on the M25 between the M3 and M23 when I've been there recently - people keeping to the limit, choosing an appropriate lane and sticking to it etc.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Stevie D » Mon Sep 20, 2021 23:26

Bryn666 wrote:
Sun Sep 19, 2021 18:46
Stevie D wrote:
Sun Sep 19, 2021 16:08
A key point would be not to use a wicket gate symbol showing a specific lane being closed on MS4s as a generic symbol meaning a lane, unspecified is closed ahead. Cue all the conscientious drivers seeing a message purporting to show that the left hand lane is closed, long queue, long queue, still in a long queue, some drivers are now ignoring the earlier signs as none of the subsequent signs have mentioned lane 1 being closed, and then we get to the incident and it turns out it is the right-hand lanes that are closed.
That shouldn't be happening - the MS4s are perfectly capable of showing which lane is closed so this sounds like operational cock-up than a limitation of the software. Even MS1s from 1969 can show which lanes are closed accurately.
As far as I can tell, it was a conscious decision, and not a wholly stupid one, rather than any kind of limitation or inability to use the software.

The lane closure was on the M62 westbound, between J30 Wakefield and J29 M1, and saw lanes 3 and 4 closed. The queue extended back to well before J30, where the motorway is only 3 lanes (there is a lane gain from the sliproad at J30). With the traffic stationary, it would have been unhelpful to show the outer two lanes closing from 3 miles back, as that would have everyone piling into lane 1 apart from the antisocial people who want to jump the queue, and so there is no benefit to telling drivers which lane(s) are closing in advance, better to have traffic queueing in all lanes and only finding out which lanes are closing at the point where they need to change.

The "mistake" was to tell drivers 3 miles back that a lane was closing, by using a symbol that could easily be read as (incorrectly) indicating specific lanes being closed. If they are going to say anything at that point then "STAY IN LANE" would be a better message. Or possibly something along the lines of "Use L1 for J30, use L2/3 for M62" so that people turning off for Wakefield get a clearer run to the sliproad.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Big L » Tue Sep 21, 2021 07:02

Stevie D wrote:
Mon Sep 20, 2021 23:26
... it would have been unhelpful to show the outer two lanes closing from 3 miles back, as that would have everyone piling into lane 1 apart from the antisocial sensible people who want to jump the queue use the available road space ....
Make poetry history.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by ROAD ROVER » Tue Sep 21, 2021 08:14

^^^

Well adjusted, in both senses of the phrase.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Stevie D » Tue Sep 21, 2021 13:07

Big L wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 07:02
Stevie D wrote:
Mon Sep 20, 2021 23:26
... it would have been unhelpful to show the outer two lanes closing from 3 miles back, as that would have everyone piling into lane 1 apart from the antisocial sensible people who want to jump the queue use the available road space ....
I'm going to pre-delete my response to this to avoid being banned.
But perhaps I should have said "sociopaths" rather than "antisocial people" to start with, in the interests of accuracy.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Chris5156 » Tue Sep 21, 2021 13:26

Stevie D wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 13:07
Big L wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 07:02
Stevie D wrote:
Mon Sep 20, 2021 23:26
... it would have been unhelpful to show the outer two lanes closing from 3 miles back, as that would have everyone piling into lane 1 apart from the antisocial sensible people who want to jump the queue use the available road space ....
I'm going to pre-delete my response to this to avoid being banned.
But perhaps I should have said "sociopaths" rather than "antisocial people" to start with, in the interests of accuracy.
I realise this is something about which people genuinely agree, but I don't understand (and have never understood) why it is better if every vehicle queues in one lane with the other empty. There is some weird British idea about queue jumping at play that is completely counterproductive.

If there are two lanes, people should queue in them both until the point where the road is narrowed to one, and at that point they should merge in turn. Not just because that is a more efficient way to combine two lanes of traffic (but it is, and that's reason enough), but also because it is more equitable. There is no scope to push past a queue if there is no empty lane there, so everyone then queues for the same length of time and everyone gets through when it's their turn. It also causes the overall length of the queue to be shorter, making it less likely to block junctions further back. I don't see what's sociopathic about that.

Or, to be more provocative about it... When there are two lanes open to traffic and one has a queue in it, why should the people who have chosen to sit in that queue be angry and indignant if other people choose the other lane? If you've chosen to sit in a queue when you could be moving, don't be angry at me, that's your choice! :paperbag:

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by trickstat » Tue Sep 21, 2021 13:59

I would say that an exception should be made when overall traffic is light enough that no actual queue should form at all, but if some vehicles don't merge until the last moment that may actually create a small queue.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by jackal » Tue Sep 21, 2021 15:20

Decent article about merging in turn: https://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/news/glas ... s-16454080

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by c2R » Tue Sep 21, 2021 15:40

Chris5156 wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 13:26
Stevie D wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 13:07
Big L wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 07:02
I'm going to pre-delete my response to this to avoid being banned.
But perhaps I should have said "sociopaths" rather than "antisocial people" to start with, in the interests of accuracy.
I realise this is something about which people genuinely agree, but I don't understand (and have never understood) why it is better if every vehicle queues in one lane with the other empty. There is some weird British idea about queue jumping at play that is completely counterproductive.

If there are two lanes, people should queue in them both until the point where the road is narrowed to one, and at that point they should merge in turn. Not just because that is a more efficient way to combine two lanes of traffic (but it is, and that's reason enough), but also because it is more equitable. There is no scope to push past a queue if there is no empty lane there, so everyone then queues for the same length of time and everyone gets through when it's their turn. It also causes the overall length of the queue to be shorter, making it less likely to block junctions further back. I don't see what's sociopathic about that.

Or, to be more provocative about it... When there are two lanes open to traffic and one has a queue in it, why should the people who have chosen to sit in that queue be angry and indignant if other people choose the other lane? If you've chosen to sit in a queue when you could be moving, don't be angry at me, that's your choice! :paperbag:

It's worse than that, Chris - I've seen queues actively queue back past all the warning signs that there are lane closures ahead as a result of this madness - it doesn't make any sense, as then there's not even any warning that the lane closure is happening and that there is a queue of sitting traffic in lane 1. It's safest to use all available lanes.

Road signage and driver education is key here - there should be zip merge signs at (and prior to) the merge point, and gantries should not display Red X until the lane is actually closed (again, I've seen red X used alongside signs saying that the lane is closing 800 yds ahead, which is also unhelpful).
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by jnty » Tue Sep 21, 2021 15:57

The narrowing for the recently finished A9 dualling roadworks had signs saying something like "WHEN QUEUEING USE BOTH LANES" with "MERGE IN TURN 200yds" etc signs before the narrowing. It seemed to be reasonably well complied with and encouraged the right behaviour and helped keep nearby junctions clear, although the inside lane queue tended to be a little bit longer. More usage of similar signage across the network could quickly change behaviour or at the very least minimise the ridiculous conflicts that occur due to the polarisation of opinion on this issue. It should probably be targeted at closures where issues around upstream junctions getting unnecessarily blocked are likely (indeed this may already be the case.)

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by EpicChef » Tue Sep 21, 2021 16:22

Or maybe just a white arrow with the sign MERGE IN TURN one gantry before the Red X?
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Chris5156 » Tue Sep 21, 2021 16:38

jnty wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 15:57
The narrowing for the recently finished A9 dualling roadworks had signs saying something like "WHEN QUEUEING USE BOTH LANES" with "MERGE IN TURN 200yds" etc signs before the narrowing. It seemed to be reasonably well complied with and encouraged the right behaviour and helped keep nearby junctions clear, although the inside lane queue tended to be a little bit longer. More usage of similar signage across the network could quickly change behaviour or at the very least minimise the ridiculous conflicts that occur due to the polarisation of opinion on this issue. It should probably be targeted at closures where issues around upstream junctions getting unnecessarily blocked are likely (indeed this may already be the case.)
The A303 has these at several of the (many) places where it narrows from dual carriageway to a single lane, and they do seem to influence driver behaviour positively. Here's an example.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by jnty » Tue Sep 21, 2021 17:28

Chris5156 wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 16:38
jnty wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 15:57
The narrowing for the recently finished A9 dualling roadworks had signs saying something like "WHEN QUEUEING USE BOTH LANES" with "MERGE IN TURN 200yds" etc signs before the narrowing. It seemed to be reasonably well complied with and encouraged the right behaviour and helped keep nearby junctions clear, although the inside lane queue tended to be a little bit longer. More usage of similar signage across the network could quickly change behaviour or at the very least minimise the ridiculous conflicts that occur due to the polarisation of opinion on this issue. It should probably be targeted at closures where issues around upstream junctions getting unnecessarily blocked are likely (indeed this may already be the case.)
The A303 has these at several of the (many) places where it narrows from dual carriageway to a single lane, and they do seem to influence driver behaviour positively. Here's an example.
Ha - I almost going to suggest that, now the dualling is finished, they put similar signage at the end of the new long dual carriageway section north of Perth as similar queues have been building up there at busy times; didn't realise there was a precedent for this!

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by ais523 » Tue Sep 21, 2021 20:05

Chris5156 wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 13:26
Stevie D wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 13:07
Big L wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 07:02
I'm going to pre-delete my response to this to avoid being banned.
But perhaps I should have said "sociopaths" rather than "antisocial people" to start with, in the interests of accuracy.
I realise this is something about which people genuinely agree, but I don't understand (and have never understood) why it is better if every vehicle queues in one lane with the other empty. There is some weird British idea about queue jumping at play that is completely counterproductive.

If there are two lanes, people should queue in them both until the point where the road is narrowed to one, and at that point they should merge in turn. Not just because that is a more efficient way to combine two lanes of traffic (but it is, and that's reason enough), but also because it is more equitable. There is no scope to push past a queue if there is no empty lane there, so everyone then queues for the same length of time and everyone gets through when it's their turn. It also causes the overall length of the queue to be shorter, making it less likely to block junctions further back. I don't see what's sociopathic about that.

Or, to be more provocative about it... When there are two lanes open to traffic and one has a queue in it, why should the people who have chosen to sit in that queue be angry and indignant if other people choose the other lane? If you've chosen to sit in a queue when you could be moving, don't be angry at me, that's your choice! :paperbag:
Something that I've seen on multiple occasions recently is an advisory closure of three lanes on a four-lane motorway (typically due to a mandatory closure of those lanes a mile or so later).

What happens in practice is that most of the drivers pile into the lane that isn't closing, while a minority use the lanes that are advisorily closed, and move into the open lane only when forced to by the mandatory closure (red Xs or even actual cones). This then holds up the traffic for the majority, as the minority look for opportunities to merge in, and causes the motorway to come to a standstill for no obvious reason.

This seems like a situation that could be fixed by using a different sequence of signs, e.g. mandatorily closing two of four lanes earlier, and not warning about the remaining lane merging until just before the lane actually closes. "This lane is about to close" warnings seem to produce the opposite effect from the expected one when the warning is given too far back, because drivers are inconsistent about how quickly they think that means they have to leave the lane.

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