Written evidence submitted by Mr Paul Tattam (RSM0058)
Safety of Smart Motorways/ All Lane Running Arrangements
I have been regularly using motorways in the UK ever since I passed my driving test in 1971. What’s more, over the years I have driven commercial vehicles, ‘Transit’ type vans, motorcycles and cars of various sizes not only on UK motorways, but also on French, German, Swedish and Spanish motorways, and also on expressways in the United States, Canada and Hong Kong.
I would like to make two points:-
1. On only three occasions in my driving career have I needed to use the hard shoulder of a motorway in an emergency, and on all three occasions it was necessary to act very quickly. Two incidents were sudden punctures, the other incident was a broken fan belt.
Fortunately on all three occasions I was able to swiftly access the safety of the hard shoulder and then call for assistance.
In recent years I have often wondered what would have happened if on the occasions outlined above, when I needed to pull over swiftly, there had been no hard shoulder to stop (relatively) safely on, and no emergency refuge area available.
I do not think the arrangements for pulling over in an emergency on ALR/smart motorways with no hard shoulder and only occasional emergency refuge areas are either safe or fit for purpose.
2. In an services area of the M1 in early April 2021 I first came across the Highways England Go left! Campaign and quite frankly I was both shocked and appalled that money should be squandered in this way.
The graphics /images/ jazzy design used were offensive to people who have lost family members in accidents where a vehicle had stopped in the left-hand live land and the vehicle had been hit by another vehicle.
The text of the safety message (see below) was in several aspects unhelpful / not fit for purpose.
If a person has passed a driving test, how necessary is it to advise “ move into an emergency area, onto a hard shoulder, motorway service area, left-hand verge, or A-road lay-by “
How helpful is it to recommend “ it should be possible for most vehicles experiencing a problem to reach an emergency area. “
Isn’t this the point? What if that ERA is not there ? In none of the 3 emergency situations I have encountered in a long driving career was it possible to continue driving safely for more than approx. 500m.