National Highways Traffic Officer: “Smart Motorways given to us as a lie”

A Panorama investigation has highlighted the shortcomings of the UK's Smart Motorways, with one National Highways insider branding them a ‘lie’

smart motorways

THE dangers of driving on the UK’s network of so-called Smart Motorways have been brought sharply into focus in a new Panorama investigation, broadcast last night.

Entitled Britain’s Killer Roads, the expose focuses not just on the Smart Motorway network, but also on the dangers faced by the public on all the UK’s roads.

The really eye-opening segment begins around 12-minutes into the documentary, where the focus shifts to the multi-million-pound upgrades to the UK’s motorways.

After speaking to Claire Mercer, whose husband was killed on a Smart Motorway along with another driver, Richard Bilton interviews an apparent National Highways employee, who is less than complimentary about the new roads.

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National Highways whistleblower: 'Find an alternative route, stay away from the Smart Motorways'

Voiced by an actor, the individual claims Smart Motorways were ‘given to us as a lie’, going on to say ‘We were told they were safe, we were told the technology was working, and the technology is not working. It’s not doing what it said it was going to do.’

The whistleblower, a traffic officer on the motorway network, was asked by Bilton the ‘Are the Smart Motorways, that our viewers will use tomorrow, are they dangerous?’. ‘Yes they are dangerous’ he responded, ‘I believe that they (road users) should find an alternative route, stay away from the Smart Motorways. It might be the time that you go on it, and you break down, and that big truck doesn’t see you’.

Highlighting the problem in the program is video footage of closely moving traffic on a section of the M1 that has been converted to an ALR (All Lane Running) Smart Motorway. The traffic and trucks (many of which hug the inside lane where the hard shoulder used to reside) are travelling so closely, it’s easy to see how a stopped vehicle in the left-hand lane could be easily missed by a driver sat way up high in the cab of a lorry.

vehicles on a motorway at night

Last week the government paused the rollout of further Smart Motorway upgrades in the UK, and pledge £900 million to the scheme with the aim of making drivers ‘safe and confident. Is this the money the government should have injected into the program from the start, and had they done so, would the stopped vehicle detection systems that are missing from so many of the roads already have been installed?

To watch the full Panorama episode, click here. For the section on Smart Motorways, skip to 12-minutes in. For the interview with the National Highways whistle blower, skip to 15-minutes in.

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