Smart motorways a ‘drain on resources’ which make roads more difficult to police
A top traffic officer has spoken out against the introduction of so-called “smart motorways” calling them a “drain on resources”. Acting Insp Lee Beck said South Yorkshire Police have had to drastically alter their practices and re-train staff to cope with the difficulties caused by the new system. According to Acting Insp Beck, the removal of the hard shoulder to make room for new signage has meant the police are no longer capable of stopping drivers on the spot. They are also required to attend the scene of every breakdown to make certain of driver safety.
“We have to be really dynamic”
“It’s really changed how we police the motorways,” he said. “Whereas before we could park on the hard shoulder, now if we get an incident we have to be really dynamic and, generally speaking, we have to end up closing the whole motorway.” There are no hard shoulders on the new motorways and traffic is alerted to incidents by gantries above the carriageway, which show red crosses when there is a lane closure and enforce temporary speed limits to help the flow of traffic. Acting Insp Beck said although the signs on the motorway do warn drivers, police are still required to go to the scene which can be a significant “drain on resources” at busy times.
No hard shoulder
“What we have noticed is a significant increase in live lane breakdowns. If someone breaks down and they are stranded the smart motorway signs do warn motorists further back but we all know that not everyone takes note of the signs,” he added. Mike Wilson, Highways England’s chief highway engineer, said: “Smart motorways are good for drivers; they add extra lanes, improve people’s journeys and are as safe as other motorways. “A three year study on the M25 has shown that smart motorways are as safe as other motorways. “For future schemes we will be reducing the maximum space between emergency areas from the maximum of 1.5 miles to one mile, where practical.”