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Smart Motorways: How Safe Are They Really?

Smart motorways have swept through the UK, and with their popularity, many in the U.S. are wondering how truly safe they are as they make their way into the states as well. The design of a smart motorway is unique. It works by allowing vehicles to use the hard shoulder during busy periods or in situations of “all lane running” stretches at all times.

However, findings from the AA have suggested that cars breaking down on smart motorways face much higher levels of damage than vehicles do on more traditional roadways. As a result, many fear their need for personal injury attorneys services may increase as the influx of these roadways moves into the U.S.

Smart Motorways Believed Three Times More Hazardous Than Traditional Roadways

According to industry experts, there is a hazard log of data that has been compiled on existing smart highways. This data suggests that breaking down on one of these smart highways can be up to three times more dangerous than doing in locations where there is the possibility of seeking refuge on the empty, hard shoulder.

If a motorist experiences mechanical difficulty on a smart motorway, they are advised to travel to the next ERA or emergency refuge area. These are smaller bays found off the hard shoulder and are typically spaced no more than one and a half miles apart.

Vehicles that cannot make it to the ERA are told to move to the verge, if possible, and no safety barrier is present. However, drivers with broken-down vehicles are stuck in an active motorway lane. They rely on being seen by the human operators of CCTV systems or by SVD (automated stationary vehicle detection) systems.

When a breakdown is identified, the lane it occurs in will be closed to all incoming traffic. This is done by displaying a red “X” symbol shown on the gantries before the incident until the vehicle can be rescued.

Average Response Time for Breakdowns on Smart Roadways Is 17 Minutes

According to data gathered on smart roadways in England, the average amount of time it takes for breakdowns to be detected when there was no SVD in operation was 17 minutes or more. There is one reported breakdown situation where it took more than one hour to detect a halted vehicle.

The expectation of making someone wait in a potentially life-threatening position for over 20 minutes is inexcusable. This is a revelation that proves how dangerous it can be to break down on an active smart highway. This also shows why so many people are justified in their serious concerns about hard shoulder removal.

Until the camera finds a broken-down vehicle, the vehicle is essentially a “sitting duck.” As a result, it is something that many people are fearful of using.

The Truth About Smart Motorways

When it comes to the use of smart motorways, there are many potential benefits. While this is true, some potential downsides must be considered. As smart roadways move into different parts of the world, including the U.S., fully understanding the situation’s pros and cons is essential. The information here provides some insight into what is going on and why it is an important consideration. While many people believe that smart motorways are the wave of the future, this may not be the case in every situation.

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