The future of smart motorways

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Micro The Maniac
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Micro The Maniac » Wed Dec 23, 2020 15:45

ChrisH wrote:
Wed Dec 23, 2020 14:02
Respectfully, that is absolutely not the question that needs to be asked. There will always be vehicles coming to an unplanned stop in the carriageway, so the question at hand (and seemingly now with the coroners) is whether HE took all reasonable steps to safeguard their customers who are stranded by stopping in the carriageway.
Respectfully, I'll disagree... eg, if the cause of breakdown was negligence on behalf of the owner (lack of preventative maintenance, ignoring a warning light etc, running out of fuel), that is not HE's fault. Pointing the finger of blame for everything at HE is what results in unnecessary low speed limits and the cluttering of the highways with futile signs.

Compare with "wrong way" driving - how can HE be at fault when people ignore signs?


Where HE need to be subject to scrutiny, rightly, is their reaction time.

You cannot, nor should you, legislate for stupidity... the practitioners have more experience!

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Bendo » Sat Dec 26, 2020 23:20

Sorry, but it doesn't matter if the car broke or if she stopped because she felt like it. The risk assessment that allowed ALR in the first place should have identified that risk and mitigated it. Upwards of 20 mins to detect a stopped vehicle is not mitigating any risk.

It is simply irrelevant why the vehicle stopped, it is a common scenario and should have been fully expected at the design stage. Whoever ultimately signed off the design without SVD should rightly be feeling uncomfortable right now.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by EpicChef » Sun Dec 27, 2020 01:47

Why aren’t updates being provided on the installation of ClearWay? Why isn’t there info on HE website, and is an FOI request due?
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Barkstar » Sun Dec 27, 2020 02:03

Bendo wrote:
Sat Dec 26, 2020 23:20
Sorry, but it doesn't matter if the car broke or if she stopped because she felt like it. The risk assessment that allowed ALR in the first place should have identified that risk and mitigated it. Upwards of 20 mins to detect a stopped vehicle is not mitigating any risk.

It is simply irrelevant why the vehicle stopped, it is a common scenario and should have been fully expected at the design stage. Whoever ultimately signed off the design without SVD should rightly be feeling uncomfortable right now.
A few years back I was on the section of the M62 between Bradford and Leeds, traffic was heavy but flowing okay. The drive over from Manchester had been hard work. The weather was very poor, heavy downpours, lot of spray, standing water. Though the overheads were showing 60mph the traffic had occasionally slowed to well below this of its own volition.

Beyond Jct 26 the HS was opened as a running lane due to volume of traffic. Myself and an HGV a little distance ahead joined the HS, which becomes the off slip for the M621 at the next junction. Moments after changing lanes the HGV made a sudden movement back into lane 2 and sure enough just ahead was a stranded small van. The overheads showed the lane as open. Passing the van it was clear he had been stopped more than a few moments as he had the back open and the backend jacked up changing his rear nearside wheel.

I contacted Highways England the next day to query how this could have happened and why, given the conditions, the overheads were 60mph (they always are when the HS is open) Here is the pertinent parts of their reply:

'Speed restrictions are not set as a rule due to weather conditions unless requested by the Police. The 60mph you saw during heavy rain may seem unreasonable, but this is a maximum speed, not a minimum'.

'We are made aware of stranded vehicles in several ways; reports from the public, Police or Traffic officers, electronic warnings from the Midas system or through CCTV monitoring. As soon as we know about an obstruction, signals are set to close the lane and associated speed restrictions imposed. I can confirm that in both cases above, signals were set quickly. There will be a short time gap between an incident happening and the signals being illuminated'.

So basically whatever the weather 'it's not our problem Guv' and I was mistaken regarding the van. I should have queried their idea of 'quickly' and 'short gap' I supposed because even if it's a job you are familiar with doing and the spare isn't buried under stuff it would still take several minutes to get to the stage of jacking the car up.

The same email informed me that it takes a volume of 5000 vehicles per hour to trigger opening the HS as a running lane. So in this case around 500 vehicles doing 50-60mph passed the stranded van, spread over 4 lanes. It is 4 miles between the two junctions and only that section of eastbound HS becomes a running lane but in my experience I'd say then at least they hadn't kept that short stretch safe enough.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by KeithW » Sun Dec 27, 2020 09:37

Micro The Maniac wrote:
Wed Dec 23, 2020 15:45

Respectfully, I'll disagree... eg, if the cause of breakdown was negligence on behalf of the owner (lack of preventative maintenance, ignoring a warning light etc, running out of fuel), that is not HE's fault. Pointing the finger of blame for everything at HE is what results in unnecessary low speed limits and the cluttering of the highways with futile signs.

Compare with "wrong way" driving - how can HE be at fault when people ignore signs?

Where HE need to be subject to scrutiny, rightly, is their reaction time.

You cannot, nor should you, legislate for stupidity... the practitioners have more experience!
Whatever the cause of the breakdown HE have a duty of care that involves having ways of addressing the problem, now they cannot address every hazard, I have seen people do incredibly dangerous things on motorways long before there were such things as Smart Motorways but it does seem better detection of stopped vehicles on all trunk roads is an obvious safety precaution. Apart from the motorways, there are many strategic roads such as the A1, A14 and A19 etc that have neither hard shoulders, refuges or any stopped vehicle detectors except the human eyeball Mk 1 and even if they do have such systems VMS signs are far from ubiquitous. Even on some motorways they can be few and far between. One option might be a rapid tie in to TA (Traffic Announcement system) fitted to most car radios. A simple announcement such as 'Stopped Vehicle Detected M1 Junction 3 Northbound' would be a considerable help. Those who dont wish to hear such messages can turn TA off.

As for legislating for stupidity we do it all the time, in fact failing to do so can be a criminal offence and always carries civil liability. Wet floors are obvious risks but if there is a spillage heaven help the business that doesnt put up warning signs. Attributing blame is irrelevant as on a high speed road as a simple collision can escalate into a multi vehicle pileup extremely quickly. A vehicle doing 60 mph is covering 88 ft every second. In the 1970's we blew off road deaths as being the drivers fault and we were killing over 7000 people on the roads every year.

If you want a financial reason then its estimated that each fatal incident on the road costs society as a whole in excess of one million pounds.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Kalna » Sun Dec 27, 2020 09:59

The two occasions that I have had to stop quickly on a motorway I have been very thankful for the hard shoulder.

From a purely non-technical view point as an average motorist I think smart motorways are the stupidest idea on the road network. Clearly there are major issues with vehicle detection, most people spend more time looking at their speedometer rather than the road and the frustration of having an open road but stuck at 50mpg because of a delay in changing the gantry signs.

Having recently become a dad the thought of having to stop in a live lane and having to extract a baby from the back absolutely terrifies me. I can't believe there are many people who genuinely like driving of them.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Micro The Maniac » Sun Dec 27, 2020 10:19

KeithW wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 09:37
Whatever the cause of the breakdown HE have a duty of care that involves having ways of addressing the problem...
We have become so risk averse, giving people "rights" and taking away the need for them to maintain their own responsibilities.

It's always easy to blame other people. Perhaps the law should start to pin the blame on the people who crash into stationary vehicles... or perhaps to those who are not maintaining their own vehicles appropriately... or perhaps the vehicle manufacturers for systemic design failures.

Policing the roads should not be down to cameras and sensors... it needs actual plod on the roads - cameras do not detect numpty driving.

I'd much rather HE was fixing its own problems, such as poor road surfaces (and blocked drainage, causing flooding) than nursemaiding people who frankly should have their licences revoked.

There is nothing inherently unsafe about digitally-enhanced motorways... other than the poor driving standards of the users.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Barkstar » Sun Dec 27, 2020 11:47

Micro The Maniac wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 10:19
There is nothing inherently unsafe about digitally-enhanced motorways... other than the poor driving standards of the users.
Thing is we are taught/instructed to follow or obey the signs and so it is incumbent on those installing and controlling them to ensure that the instructions and information is accurate and fails safe. If a council reduces the speed limit and the majority of drivers can perceive no good reason for doing so then compliance suffers and people will go faster than the sign says and in very few cases is harm done. In the case of a smart motorway with a part-time running lane it is vital that the instructions are current, and most importantly fail safe every time. Because harm is the likely outcome.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by KeithW » Sun Dec 27, 2020 14:15

Micro The Maniac wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 10:19
KeithW wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 09:37
Whatever the cause of the breakdown HE have a duty of care that involves having ways of addressing the problem...
We have become so risk averse, giving people "rights" and taking away the need for them to maintain their own responsibilities.

It's always easy to blame other people. Perhaps the law should start to pin the blame on the people who crash into stationary vehicles... or perhaps to those who are not maintaining their own vehicles appropriately... or perhaps the vehicle manufacturers for systemic design failures.

Policing the roads should not be down to cameras and sensors... it needs actual plod on the roads - cameras do not detect numpty driving.

I'd much rather HE was fixing its own problems, such as poor road surfaces (and blocked drainage, causing flooding) than nursemaiding people who frankly should have their licences revoked.

There is nothing inherently unsafe about digitally-enhanced motorways... other than the poor driving standards of the users.

I am an engineer and not overly risk averse but given the facts that police patrol cars and policemen are much more expensive then radar sensors that can spot a car that is not moving in a live lane it seems a reasonable investment and one that has been made elsewhere. CCTV which has been the mainstay up to now is not effective when you most need it, at night and in poor visibility. In fact one of the major trial sites has been the M25 carried out by HE in conjunction with Navtech. In fact as a result of this and the DfT intervention regarding Smart Motorways HE launched a pilot program in March this year.
https://www.highwaysmagazine.co.uk/High ... ement/8159

The simple reality is that you will never have enough police patrols to detect stopped vehicles in a timely manner nor do we have the money to provide hard shoulders and widened roads on the strategic road network so I see the reason for Smart Motorways, frankly the hard shoulder of a motorway is an extremely dangerous place to be let alone being stuck in lane 4 of a smart Motorway

Stationary vehicle detection IS a valid aim, the statistics from HE showed that the average time to realise this has happened is 17 minutes, a lot can happen in that time. The trials showed that over 90% of breakdowns on Smart Motorways with SVD could be picked up in a minute or so.

As for causes of breakdown since getting a full license in 1972 I have had to stop 3 times on a motorway in motorway and twice on major dual carriageways. Two of those were down to blowouts , one of them just after the D2 A428 opened when I hit what looked a concrete edging block presumably left behind by the road builders. It was 6 PM in winter on an unlit road. Of the breakdowns one was a failed fuel pump, another a split bottom hose and the third a leaking water pump. All were on cars that were under 3 years old and serviced in line the manufacturers recommendations.

People who drive into he back of stationary vehicles and cause serious injuries are in fact very often prosecuted and the penalties can include several years in prison but that is not much satisfaction to the families of anyone killed or seriously injured. There have also been cases where drivers who stopped due to their own negligence have indeed been seriously punished.
https://www.essexlive.news/news/local-n ... ol-1378389

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Bryn666 » Sun Dec 27, 2020 14:51

Micro The Maniac wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 10:19
KeithW wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 09:37
Whatever the cause of the breakdown HE have a duty of care that involves having ways of addressing the problem...
We have become so risk averse, giving people "rights" and taking away the need for them to maintain their own responsibilities.

It's always easy to blame other people. Perhaps the law should start to pin the blame on the people who crash into stationary vehicles... or perhaps to those who are not maintaining their own vehicles appropriately... or perhaps the vehicle manufacturers for systemic design failures.

Policing the roads should not be down to cameras and sensors... it needs actual plod on the roads - cameras do not detect numpty driving.

I'd much rather HE was fixing its own problems, such as poor road surfaces (and blocked drainage, causing flooding) than nursemaiding people who frankly should have their licences revoked.

There is nothing inherently unsafe about digitally-enhanced motorways... other than the poor driving standards of the users.
You want all these extra police, are you prepared to pay for them?

Everytime people make the argument that we "need more police on the roads" they go silent when the inevitable "okay, pay more tax" response comes along.

If Highways England want people to drive on what has historically always been a "sacrosanct" piece of the motorway reserved for emergencies then it is entirely their problem to ensure that idea is safe and can be operated within the EXISTING constraints of policing, video enforcement, and sign control.

Also how are we giving people ever more "rights" without responsibility when you yourself have complained about lower speed limits and heavier enforcement taking away these "rights"?

You can't have your cake and eat it.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by WHBM » Sun Dec 27, 2020 16:41

Bryn666 wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 14:51
Everytime people make the argument that we "need more police on the roads" they go silent when the inevitable "okay, pay more tax" response comes along.
Notably, from times when I, and others, paid a fraction of the tax we pay nowadays, there were far more traffic police, proper motorway patrols, etc, around than nowadays.

Funny that, isn't it. Wonder what they do with all the money nowadays. It's also notable that when there is a big increase in government take for something (passport issuing is a good example, there have been at least two substantial hikes in costs justified as "to pay for a better service than currently"), it never makes a blind bit of difference to the service provided, the extra moneys just evaporate somewhere.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by trickstat » Sun Dec 27, 2020 16:55

WHBM wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 16:41
Bryn666 wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 14:51
Everytime people make the argument that we "need more police on the roads" they go silent when the inevitable "okay, pay more tax" response comes along.
Notably, from times when I, and others, paid a fraction of the tax we pay nowadays, there were far more traffic police, proper motorway patrols, etc, around than nowadays.

Funny that, isn't it. Wonder what they do with all the money nowadays. It's also notable that when there is a big increase in government take for something (passport issuing is a good example, there have been at least two substantial hikes in costs justified as "to pay for a better service than currently"), it never makes a blind bit of difference to the service provided, the extra moneys just evaporate somewhere.
The Passport Agency is a Government Agency which means that its operations are funded by the fees it charges. I assume the increased fees largely cover the increased costs of extra security checks that are now made, such as interviewing people getting their first passport, plus the passport itself being more expensive to produce with its holograms etc. Arguably the direct service for the person getting or renewing their passport is not really any better or worse, but it could be argued that we are all served better by a more secure system that is less susceptible to fraud.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Bendo » Sun Dec 27, 2020 17:25

WHBM wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 16:41
Bryn666 wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 14:51
Everytime people make the argument that we "need more police on the roads" they go silent when the inevitable "okay, pay more tax" response comes along.
Notably, from times when I, and others, paid a fraction of the tax we pay nowadays, there were far more traffic police, proper motorway patrols, etc, around than nowadays.

Funny that, isn't it. Wonder what they do with all the money nowadays.
I suspect in those good old days, crime was a lot simpler and less was spend on cyber crime etc. Crime that simply didn't exist so the budget could be spent on visible front line policing.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Vierwielen » Sun Dec 27, 2020 18:22

WHBM wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 16:41
Bryn666 wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 14:51
Everytime people make the argument that we "need more police on the roads" they go silent when the inevitable "okay, pay more tax" response comes along.
Notably, from times when I, and others, paid a fraction of the tax we pay nowadays, there were far more traffic police, proper motorway patrols, etc, around than nowadays.

Funny that, isn't it. Wonder what they do with all the money nowadays. It's also notable that when there is a big increase in government take for something (passport issuing is a good example, there have been at least two substantial hikes in costs justified as "to pay for a better service than currently"), it never makes a blind bit of difference to the service provided, the extra moneys just evaporate somewhere.
In many countries, they have a population register against which they can check passport applications. I saw such a system in operation when I worked in Germany in 2000/1. AS soon as I got a permanent place to stay (I commuted to the UK fortnightly), I had to register at the town hall, showing my passport. I was issued with a German Auslander ID document and at the same time I was registered with the tax authorities and was placed on the electoral role - as an EU citizen I had the right to vote in municipal elections. The existence of such a register must make passport application a lot simpler. Also, when researching my Dutch ancestry, I was introduced to the system that the Dutch inherited from Napoleon - whenever one changed one's status (got married, divorced, emigrated, died etc), a note was made on the birth register in the town where one was born - thereby short-circuiting any "Day of the Jackal" tricks. Again, this would cut down the cost of issuing a new passport.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by KeithW » Sun Dec 27, 2020 19:55

WHBM wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 16:41

Notably, from times when I, and others, paid a fraction of the tax we pay nowadays, there were far more traffic police, proper motorway patrols, etc, around than nowadays.

Funny that, isn't it. Wonder what they do with all the money nowadays. It's also notable that when there is a big increase in government take for something (passport issuing is a good example, there have been at least two substantial hikes in costs justified as "to pay for a better service than currently"), it never makes a blind bit of difference to the service provided, the extra moneys just evaporate somewhere.
Reality check

Police expenditure in 1979 - £1 billion - corrected for inflation £4.5 billion
Police expenditure in 2015 - £13 billion

Between then and now crime has been more organised and crosses police authority lines, the police now investigate complex crimes such as insider trading and money laundering and have to concern themselves with cyber crime, anti terrorism and drug related crime much more not to mention the binge drinking culture that has made many town centres hazardous places to be at night. The reality is that a modern Road Crimes unit will include rapid armed response vehicles and provide support for anti drugs operation, people smuggling and modern slavery.

The police are now required to treat any RTC that causes death or serious injury as a crime and treat it the same as murder or manslaughter, this required the creation of specialist Collision Investigation Unit (CIU) or Forensic Collision Investigation and Reconstruction Units (FCIRU) and prolonged road closures.

Back in the 1970's the major responsibility of Motorway police was reopening the road as fast as possible to the extent that cars could find themselves passing bodies under sheets at the side of the road, we were losing more than 3 times as many lives then than today with 1/3 of modern traffic levels and of course drink driving was common and seen as socially acceptable. If someone was banned for drunk driving people would feel sorry for them. In the 1970s the main requirements for a new police entrant was good character and physical fitness. Now 40% of new coppers have degrees and that is rising.

Yes the police have now to handle much more red tape than in the past. Politicians create all these new rules but coppers on the ground have to enforce them. There are better things for policemen to do than driving along the motorway looking for breakdowns especially when 95% of drivers have a mobile phone. The routine motorway patrols are now largely carried out by about 1200 Traffic Officers employed by Highways England and a large part of their job is looking out for hazards such as debris on the roads and potholes.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by jusme » Sun Dec 27, 2020 20:17

On the subject of SVD, that seems to me like an ideal application for that over-hyped pattern recognition technology, laughingly called "AI". It could be used to watch all CCTV images simultaneously and in real-time, and track the progress of every vehicle. If any unusual pattern developed a human operator could be alerted to review the incident and take action as appropriate. With this "AI" assistance a small number of operators could cover the entire network 24x7.

Of course it would require > 100% CCTV coverage (which should be a requirement anyway, IMO), and good enough CCTV images, so maybe we'd need to put in (or put back) lighting. That might also help drivers see what's happening better, given that "drive at a speed such that you can stop in the distance you can see" is never going to be a reality, especially on a motorway at night.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by EpicChef » Mon Dec 28, 2020 00:19

I think we just need the following measures:
  • ERA distance at no more than one mile for all new schemes, and existing schemes retrofitted where at all possible
  • Conversion of dynamic hard shoulder to all lane running, to avoid confusion for drivers where hard shoulders are concerned
  • Continuous LED lighting, not just at junctions, so stopped vehicles can be clearly seen at night
  • Immediate installation of NavTech ClearWay SVD technology, to cover 100% of the land between highway boundaries, including on- and off-slips, Emergency Refuge Areas, and verges adjacent to the carriageway
  • Any stopped vehicle detected by ClearWay SVD technology should result in an immediate speed reduction to 40, and a lane closure if the obstructed lane is known by ClearWay, even before human intervention
  • Installation of new wiring and back-end comms equipment, to support the effective running of monitoring and signaling without delays and interruptions
  • Frequent checking and maintenance of monitoring and signalling equipment - monthly enhanced remote checks from Regional Control Center, with immediate on-site follow up if concerns or doubts are raised, and full on-site maintenance every 6 months (every 3 months for stretches with a higher breakdown rate)
  • Removal of armco barriers where adjacent verge could act as an area of relative safety, and installation of SVD to detect vehicles stopped in verges
  • Testing of all emergency telephones and Emergency Refuge Area vehicle detection, every 3 months
This is a rigorous maintenance routine but should be the basic expectation from smart motorways.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by jervi » Mon Dec 28, 2020 00:30

jusme wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 20:17
Of course it would require > 100% CCTV coverage (which should be a requirement anyway, IMO), and good enough CCTV images, so maybe we'd need to put in (or put back) lighting. That might also help drivers see what's happening better, given that "drive at a speed such that you can stop in the distance you can see" is never going to be a reality, especially on a motorway at night.
Currently Camera Coverage on any road with VSL has to be 95%+ by standard. Those without a hard shoulder (ex.DHS) it is 100% of the mainline carriageway + ERAs.
Although this is achieved by Pan&Tilt&Zoom Cameras, so there isn't 100% coverage at any one time, just that 100% of the carriageway can be viewed.

source: https://www.standardsforhighways.co.uk/ ... c6e9e48a40

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Barkstar » Mon Dec 28, 2020 01:41

KeithW wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 19:55
The routine motorway patrols are now largely carried out by about 1200 Traffic Officers employed by Highways England and a large part of their job is looking out for hazards such as debris on the roads and potholes.
It's a shame that no one seems to act on their reports round these parts....

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by darkcape » Mon Dec 28, 2020 07:22

jusme wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 20:17
On the subject of SVD, that seems to me like an ideal application for that over-hyped pattern recognition technology, laughingly called "AI". It could be used to watch all CCTV images simultaneously and in real-time, and track the progress of every vehicle. If any unusual pattern developed a human operator could be alerted to review the incident and take action as appropriate. With this "AI" assistance a small number of operators could cover the entire network 24x7.

Of course it would require > 100% CCTV coverage (which should be a requirement anyway, IMO), and good enough CCTV images, so maybe we'd need to put in (or put back) lighting. That might also help drivers see what's happening better, given that "drive at a speed such that you can stop in the distance you can see" is never going to be a reality, especially on a motorway at night.
I believe one of the SVD systems trialled does precisely this. The AI scans incoming CCTV images to determine individual vehicles, and then tracks their speed & progress.

As others have said, one of the drawbacks is that ALR schemes don't have CCTV coverage of 100% of lanes 100% of the time, so if the camera isn't pointing at a stopped vehicle it can't detect it - which is why radar options are also being looked at. The DHSR schemes have more fixed cameras, but they don't all cover 100% of the carriageway so may miss a vehicle stopped in Lane 4.

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