16 Comments

Smart motorways. Thought up, designed and implemented by someone who doesn’t drive on motorways. Or at all. The stranded motorist is relying on too many variables for it to be safe abd should be banned yesterday.

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May 10, 2022Liked by Guy Walters

Terrifying Guy! I had a blow out at 70mph (obvioulsy...ahem) in the fast lane of the M56. Got to the hard shoulder and even then, with young daughter to look after I changed the wheel - the fear of imminent lack of attention from a lorry - and even the backwash as they shot past was terrifying!

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May 10, 2022Liked by Guy Walters

Given the dangers of "smart" motorways and reports on the news reflecting your experience I'm glad I don't have a driving licence.

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May 10, 2022Liked by Guy Walters

It is of course a pretty terrifying experience to be stationary even on a hard shoulder, with wind-blown heavies often straying half a lane or more, and I can only imagine how scary it must be to be left wondering if the artic is going to notice you and move. The drama is clear, and thankfully did not add to the morbid tally.

Boringly the data on road deaths is less than conclusive than the assembled anecdotes. In 2019 smart motorways saw more deaths involving stationary cars, 2018 it was a little over and in other years it was lower, and they show lower deaths between moving traffic, overall, over time killing fewer people. I don't wish to trivialise the incident -- I think it's a natural reaction to be terrified in this situation and blame the motorway -- and any design choice that moves deaths around is an interesting one from a moral standpoint -- just consider the trollycar conundrums. It is particularly interesting if one finds oneself on the track rather than pulling the lever.

Given they exist and appear set to stay, perhaps the platform might usefully be used to advocate for improved safety (red X compliance, blanket stopped-car radar coverage, better refuge density) as well as messages about what to do (roll to refuge if possible, get out (nearside doors), leave passenger door / boot open, hazards on, get behind barrier, never turn back on live traffic)?

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May 10, 2022Liked by Guy Walters

Thank goodness you guys got lucky with this one, these motorways are scandalous. It shouldn’t be a case of luck, but these roads are basically a deadly lottery. I can’t recall another government policy that has more actively endangered the lives of UK citizens (not that it is impossible, but this takes some beating)

As an owner and enthusiast of classic cars, the situation is somewhat heightened for people like me. I must say firstly classic cars are no less reliable than modern cars if looked after correctly, nor are they inherently dangerous even without modern safety features. But component wear is a thing, and as I was driving back from Lyon yesterday in my 1986 Audi 80 Sport, I did wonder whether something would give up, travelling 700 miles at 80 mph. It didn’t in the end, thanks to some* foresight and preparation from me, and solid dependable engineering. But it was telling that as soon as I got off the eurotunnel, I felt less secure on the UK motorways than the French ones. There are so few options in an emergency, and if there is a lorry bearing down on you, no amount of modern safety system is going to save you. For comparison, every mile in France there was an emergency phone and a constant hard shoulder. It’s shocking that the ‘Smart’ Motorway was even considered. Nothing is worth sacrificing safety for in my view. It is the definition of Out Of Touch

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May 10, 2022Liked by Guy Walters

Well said Guy. Dreadful things.

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May 10, 2022Liked by Guy Walters

Thank you for doing this interview Guy. I suspect the reason why the Secretary of State was a no show was because he knows the system is indefensible. And Mr Rogers, the algorithm man, proved the point admirably. As you said, a “smart” system for dumb people.

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May 10, 2022Liked by Guy Walters

It’s an extraordinarily stupid idea on its face.

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