Increase in number of ‘wrong way’ incidents on UK motorways

National Highways data is highlighting a scary increase in the number of reports of vehicles travelling the wrong way on UK motorways

smart motorways
smart motorways

NATIONAL Highways data suggests that reports of vehicles travelling in the wrong direction on UK motorways are on the rise, with alcohol and technology being two of the possible reasons.

The data comes via a Freedom of Information request submitted by the PA news agency, and it highlights an increase in reports of 13 per cent in the last twelve months. That takes the number of wrong-way reports on the UK’s motorway network to nearly 900 in a twelve-month period.

More accurately, the number of ‘oncoming vehicle’ reports made in the twelve months leading up to June 2023, rose to 872. That’s 102 more cases of wrong-way driving on the motorway network compared to the same period last year. The Guardian highlights that this data is in relation to ‘unconfirmed reports’ of wrong-way driving made to National Highways. We do find it odd though that these reports are ‘unconfirmed’ despite the UK’s motorway network being covered in CCTV cameras. 

Motoring groups are now calling on the government to do more to make it even harder to mistake an off-ramp for a slip road, because, crazy as it seems, that is being touted as one issue. It’s not the only problem though, and an overreliance on sat-navs and other technology, and drunk driving are two other probable causes.

Increase in number of ‘wrong way’ incidents on UK motorways

One idea to help prevent drivers from inadvertently pulling onto a motorway in the wrong direction is to use sensors on the slip road. These could detect a car moving in the wrong direction and then trigger warning signs to notify the mistaken driver of their error, and those travelling on the motorway in the correct direction of the danger they may encounter. These systems though would be expensive to implement, and given the amount of money that has already been pumped into the ham-fisted smart motorway network, the government is likely to try another, more cost-effective route.

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