Smart motorways could be useless in a decade – due to electric cars

Posted: January 30, 2020 by oldbrew in Critique, News, Travel

M42 ‘smart’ motorway [image credit: Snowmanradio @ Wikipedia]

UK smart motorways have been getting negative press lately for safety – or lack of it – reasons. Running out of EV battery power could be a risk too far on such roads, branded by some as ‘death traps’.
– – –
Smart motorways could be rendered obsolete within a decade as they are not suitable for electric cars, it was claimed yesterday.

AA boss Edmund King warned the routes would be even more dangerous because it would not be possible to tow the stranded vehicles to safety, says All World Report.

He said driverless cars could also run into problems on smart motorways, where the hard shoulder is used as a regular traffic lane to ease congestion.

Developers recommend if a motorist falls asleep in an autonomous vehicle then it should pull over in a safe place – but this may prove impossible with no hard shoulder.

Mr King said: ‘In their current guise, smart motorways could be obsolete within ten years due to the lack of emergency refuge areas.’

The precautions for breaking down on a smart motorway

Smart motorways are so dangerous that drivers must call 999 if they break down on them, a police leader warned yesterday.

Che Donald, vice-chairman of the Police Federation, said even a tyre puncture could be a life-or-death emergency.

He said: ‘It is inherently dangerous, our members are responding to these breakdowns. We know Highways England has a duty to assist, but I think their primary focus is more about the flow of traffic than the safety of people using those roads.’

AA boss Edmund King underlined the breakdown advice, adding: ‘If you can’t get out, keep your seatbelt on, put your hazards on and dial 999. That’s how serious it is.’

Mr King also said smart motorways – where the hard shoulder is used as a regular traffic lane to ease congestion – could be obsolete within a decade as they are not suitable for electric cars.

He warned: ‘You can’t flat tow some electric vehicles more than 800 metres, some you can’t flat tow at all. So the problem is they will take longer to get off the motorways.’

He spoke out as transport chiefs unveiled proposals to turn parts of the M4 and M5 into nearly 30 miles of smart motorways.

Yesterday John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, warned that smart motorways were ‘death traps’.

Full report here.
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[Original Daily Mail article here.]

  1. ivan says:

    The question is ‘what makes these motorways smart if they can’t automatically route traffic round a breakdown?’ In fact they seem to be rather dumb motorways.

  2. JB says:

    There are numberless words in any language that defies precise definition. “Smart” is among them in English. Like trying to define a “point” in “space.”

  3. spetzer86 says:

    Maybe they could further smarten up the roadways by planting large, decorative bushes near the edges making it more difficult to see around corners?

  4. oldbrew says:

    Then there are all those signs threatening to tow your car away if parked in the wrong place, or parked at all. That could result in damage if it’s an EV.

  5. Gamecock says:

    Indeed, ivan. They seem to be as smart as smart meters.

  6. Chaswarnertoo says:

    The original trials had lay-bys every 1/4 mile. Not ‘smart’ to have them every 2 miles, in fact, lethal.

  7. Phoenix44 says:

    The whole thing is a disaster – years of delays for drivers whilst they are built, with no benefits whatsoever to tmost of those drivers when they are finished. And now obsolete in a few years anyway.

  8. tom0mason says:

    I have always assumed that SMART (as used with any new device or methods) was an acronym for
    Social Monitoring And Recording Technology.

  9. oldbrew says:

    Electric car-sharing scheme scrapped in London after poor uptake
    2 hours ago

    French-owned Bluecity, which ran a fleet of distinctive red battery-powered cars, said its £5-per-half hour service was no longer financially viable after it secured deals with only three London councils. It will officially shut down on February 10.

    A second car-sharing club, German-owned DriveNow, is pulling out of London at the end of next month. It operated 130 electric BMW i3 cars out of a total fleet of more than 700 vehicles.

    Both services were “point to point”, allowing drivers to pick cars up, drive to anywhere in London and leave them there, in theory making it more flexible.

    However, they were plagued by disappointing take-up and the bureaucratic obstacle course of dealing with 33 local authorities.
    – – –
    What happened to the Greater London Authority?

  10. oldbrew says:

    MEN report: M62 smart motorway on hold following safety concerns

    The Transport Secretary says new smart motorways – including a stretch of the M62 from Rochdale – won’t open until a safety review is complete following a rise in near-misses
    10:20, 31 JAN 2020

  11. K sadler says:

    And if there is a breakdown parked on the smart lane, all lanes drop to 50 mph leading to backlogs of vehicles and more danger. At least with a hard shoulder the motorway itself is unhindered.

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