The future of smart motorways

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EpicChef
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The future of smart motorways

Post by EpicChef » Sat Dec 29, 2018 04:55

With a rising number of concerns regarding the safety of ALR, there are a few things we need to do as the future of smart motorways is changing.

So this is a thread where we can discuss what we think should happen to smart motorways and how we think can make it more efficient.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by jusme » Sat Dec 29, 2018 07:02

This article claims "The government is considering fines of up to £100 for motorists who drive on lanes which have been closed on a smart motorway.":

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk ... 9-15562458 (right at the bottom of the page)

Isn't it already the case - or is this just a change to permit automated enforcement?

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Conekicker » Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:06

I'd suggest future-proofing them at the design stage would be wise, including but not limited to:

1) Widening the verge where possible to ease the construction of a hard shoulder or extra traffic lane in future.
2) Setting back drainage, safety fencing, traffic signs and other infrastructure out of the path of this future widening.
3) Providing emergency refuge areas at 1 mile intervals, regardless of how difficult the topography at the site might be.
4) Lighting the route - it's far easier to see a broken down vehicle on a lit section. This would reduce the need for a broken down vehicle detection system which I understand is currently being looked at. The drivers eye and street lighting already exist, so there's no need to spend the public purse on developing a system of unknown reliability.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by WHBM » Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:20

Conekicker wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:06
I'd suggest future-proofing them at the design stage would be wise.
How about not doing such cack schemes in the first place ?

It's not as if proper widening has not been managed straightforwardly on motorways previously, there are plenty of such instances. One thing that strikes me professionally is the costs of ALR schemes seem to have risen disproportionately, to the extent that they seem to be having outturn prices not dissimilar to proper widening. The designers and contractors were not going to see a loss of revenue.
4) Lighting the route - it's far easier to see a broken down vehicle on a lit section
On the M25/M1 ALR sections, and maybe others, the existing street lighting, which was installed in the 1970s on safety grounds, has actually been REMOVED as part of the works :roll:

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Conekicker » Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:28

WHBM wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:20
How about not doing such cack schemes in the first place ?

On the M25/M1 ALR sections, and maybe others, the existing street lighting, which was installed in the 1970s on safety grounds, has actually been REMOVED as part of the works :roll:
I never said that those charged with overseeing the SM programme actually know what they are doing...

:twisted:
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Bendo » Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:49

jusme wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 07:02
This article claims "The government is considering fines of up to £100 for motorists who drive on lanes which have been closed on a smart motorway.":

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk ... 9-15562458 (right at the bottom of the page)

Isn't it already the case - or is this just a change to permit automated enforcement?
It's currently 3 points and £100 fine. Presumably as you say it is to allow automated enforcement. The cameras know what lane you are in so why it wasn't done from the off I've no idea. Just more stupidity and lack of any forward thinking.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by fras » Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:22

Essentially nothing will be done until there is a massive crash with lots of people killed, directly due to a stopped vehicle in Lane 1. Closing off Lane 1 with the signs when a vehicle is spotted is inevitably going to take many seconds, even minutes, if the controllers are on the ball, then traffic must react. Plenty of time for a huge prang to occur.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Bryn666 » Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:37

I still think the lane 1 issue is massively overplayed. We do not have thousands of deaths on all-purpose roads with no hard shoulder.

A driver hitting a stopped vehicle is bad planning and ignorance. Those who think overhead signs don't apply to them, etc.

The real issues with smart motorways are that roadworks have to be done overnight now as hard shoulder closures are impossible.

There cannot be major maintenance schemes without taking lanes out of use, 4 narrow lanes will not provide the working clearance Ch 8 demands.

So maintenance related failures are more likely than broken down vehicles causing pile ups.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Johnathan404 » Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:53

Bryn666 wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:37
The real issues with smart motorways are that roadworks have to be done overnight now as hard shoulder closures are impossible.
Exactly. People tend to totally miss this as they always focus on the relatively minor issue which is visible.

Take the M6/M5 interchange for example. The system had to be switched off for roadworks; months of hour-long delays followed.

That said I do cringe every time I hear the words 'we've got severe delays on the M25 this evening... that's due to a breakdown' on travel reports. It is an embarrassing problem we've created for ourselves.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Ruperts Trooper » Sat Dec 29, 2018 13:02

Bryn666 wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:37
I still think the lane 1 issue is massively overplayed. We do not have thousands of deaths on all-purpose roads with no hard shoulder.

A driver hitting a stopped vehicle is bad planning and ignorance. Those who think overhead signs don't apply to them, etc.

The real issues with smart motorways are that roadworks have to be done overnight now as hard shoulder closures are impossible.

There cannot be major maintenance schemes without taking lanes out of use, 4 narrow lanes will not provide the working clearance Ch 8 demands.

So maintenance related failures are more likely than broken down vehicles causing pile ups.
Have you watched the video of Billy Monger's accident at Donnington - he's unsighted by the car in front, which manages to avoid the stationary car but Billy can't? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoD8-yjgeGM

That's exactly what happens on a motorway, some cars can swerve to another lane leaving an unsighted vehicle to hit the obstruction.

It's made worse by SUVs and HGVs whose drivers can see over cars and get some advance notice but equally block the view for car drivers.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by WHBM » Sat Dec 29, 2018 13:06

Bryn666 wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:37
I still think the lane 1 issue is massively overplayed. We do not have thousands of deaths on all-purpose roads with no hard shoulder.
And, as I have consistently replied, all purpose roads of comparable date and volumes have grass verges that broken down vehicles and even maintenance crews typically drive onto, along with very frequent turnings. It was always in their design spec, and I believe still is. Now with ALR even perfectly viable and flat side verge areas get Armco'd off.
The real issues with smart motorways are that roadworks have to be done overnight now as hard shoulder closures are impossible.
And that makes it now impossible to insert a hard shoulder, or even an additional lay-by, without huge disruption.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Big L » Sat Dec 29, 2018 13:47

Ruperts Trooper wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 13:02
Have you watched the video of Billy Monger's accident at Donnington - he's unsighted by the car in front, which manages to avoid the stationary car but Billy can't? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoD8-yjgeGM

That's exactly what happens on a motorway, some cars can swerve to another lane leaving an unsighted vehicle to hit the obstruction.

It's made worse by SUVs and HGVs whose drivers can see over cars and get some advance notice but equally block the view for car drivers.
Of course that incident is entirely relevant to this discussion as it happened at 100+ mph, in vehicles with incredibly poor visibility, during bad weather, during a race, where driving inches apart is the norm.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by roadtester » Sat Dec 29, 2018 14:11

Big L wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 13:47
Ruperts Trooper wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 13:02
Have you watched the video of Billy Monger's accident at Donnington - he's unsighted by the car in front, which manages to avoid the stationary car but Billy can't? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoD8-yjgeGM

That's exactly what happens on a motorway, some cars can swerve to another lane leaving an unsighted vehicle to hit the obstruction.

It's made worse by SUVs and HGVs whose drivers can see over cars and get some advance notice but equally block the view for car drivers.
Of course that incident is entirely relevant to this discussion as it happened at 100+ mph, in vehicles with incredibly poor visibility, during bad weather, during a race, where driving inches apart is the norm.
Yes. I can see this is a problem in practice because of the way people drive too close to each other and bob between lanes unnecessarily eating into other drivers’ space, but if everyone was driving by the book - two second rule, leaving a gap big enough to stop in and so on, this should be far less of an issue
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Ruperts Trooper » Sat Dec 29, 2018 14:44

Big L wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 13:47
Ruperts Trooper wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 13:02
Have you watched the video of Billy Monger's accident at Donnington - he's unsighted by the car in front, which manages to avoid the stationary car but Billy can't? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoD8-yjgeGM

That's exactly what happens on a motorway, some cars can swerve to another lane leaving an unsighted vehicle to hit the obstruction.

It's made worse by SUVs and HGVs whose drivers can see over cars and get some advance notice but equally block the view for car drivers.
Of course that incident is entirely relevant to this discussion as it happened at 100+ mph, in vehicles with incredibly poor visibility, during bad weather, during a race, where driving inches apart is the norm.
It demonstrates what can happen with an unsighted stationary vehicle - the average driver has much slower reactions than race drivers (and don't slow down in poor visibility!).

I'd be interested to know how long the average time is from a stranding to signalled lane closure on a smart motorway.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Bomag » Sat Dec 29, 2018 15:38

Conekicker wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:28
WHBM wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:20
How about not doing such cack schemes in the first place ?

On the M25/M1 ALR sections, and maybe others, the existing street lighting, which was installed in the 1970s on safety grounds, has actually been REMOVED as part of the works :roll:
I never said that those charged with overseeing the SM programme actually know what they are doing...

:twisted:
I thought that finally someone had found them out, then I realised.

Drove through the M1 J23a/25 on Christmas Day, not a lane closure in sight and 50 mph.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Owain » Sat Dec 29, 2018 19:26

EpicChef wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 04:55
With a rising number of concerns regarding the safety of ALR, there are a few things we need to do as the future of smart motorways is changing.

So this is a thread where we can discuss what we think should happen to smart motorways and how we think can make it more efficient.
It would be nice to get rid of them, because they are an aberration.

I would like to see lots of completely new routes built to relieve our existing motorways, all with free-flowing junctions and hard shoulders, and no speed limits.

But I know that ain't gonna happen. :(
Bryn666 wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:37
I still think the lane 1 issue is massively overplayed. We do not have thousands of deaths on all-purpose roads with no hard shoulder.

A driver hitting a stopped vehicle is bad planning and ignorance. Those who think overhead signs don't apply to them, etc.
I agree ... nobody seems to complain about dualled A-roads being dangerous because they have no hard shoulders.

Nonetheless, I had quite a shock on the M5, when I was doing 70 in lane 1 and came upon a broken-down car stranded on the verge. There had been no prior warning.

I'd have been much safer if I'd been in the outside lane doing 90, because I'd have been nowhere near the vehicle in question. But, because of the notional 70 limit, and the cameras, I wasn't.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Jeni » Sat Dec 29, 2018 23:34

WHBM wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 13:06
Now with ALR even perfectly viable and flat side verge areas get Armco'd off.
How do you explain the verges on smart motorways which arent Armco'd off?

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by nowster » Sat Dec 29, 2018 23:46

A problem with red Xs and roadworks is they're often applied well in advance of the cones, which gives rise to a "crying wolf" effect, hence lessens compliance.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Berk » Sat Dec 29, 2018 23:59

nowster wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 23:46
A problem with red Xs and roadworks is they're often applied well in advance of the cones, which gives rise to a "crying wolf" effect, hence lessens compliance.
Yes, I think the problem is that the control centres are too reactive - both before and after an incident. They should be quicker about restricting lanes as soon as reports come in, and allow as many lanes as possible to resume normal speeds afterwards.

Not 20, 40, 20, 60, 40, 20, NSL, 20 etc. which I have seen an awful lot of.

Being asked to drive at 40 for 10 miles is fine. Having a rapidly changing limit due to an earlier incident is not.

This is why I am very sceptical that smart motorways actually improve free-flowing conditions. Traffic is often moving, but only just. Much like a classic motorway.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Johnathan404 » Sun Dec 30, 2018 00:01

Jeni wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 23:34
WHBM wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 13:06
Now with ALR even perfectly viable and flat side verge areas get Armco'd off.
How do you explain the verges on smart motorways which arent Armco'd off?
In fairness I think there has been a huge variation between schemes (and probably design dates). The M3, for example, has long lengths of Armco protecting no visible hazards, but this is not true nationwide.

But if poor implementation were a reason to never build something again we would have no roundabouts, traffic lights or dual carriageways...
nowster wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 23:46
A problem with red Xs and roadworks is they're often applied well in advance of the cones, which gives rise to a "crying wolf" effect, hence lessens compliance.
It is the contradiction between red X and physical roadwork signage which is the biggest problem. You are literally telling drivers they can ignore the red X for another mile.
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