Written evidence submitted by Mrs Susan Hancock (RSM0061)


We were travelling south, near Luton, on the M1 late on a Saturday afternoon, in daylight and all four lanes were being run.  My husband was driving.  It was a couple of years ago in late summer.


As we neared junction 11 I noticed a car in lane one and a girl stood behind the barrier, the traffic was running quite fast and although the hazard lights were on drivers were having to swerve out of the way in to the other lanes to avoid the broken down car.  I was so alarmed that I phoned Highways England to report it assuming that they would have picked up the incident on their cameras as it’s a busy spot.  To my absolute horror, I was told that they hadn’t noticed the driver and the car blocking the lane but they ‘would have a look’.  By this time we were already near St Albans so I’ve no idea how long it took them to take action.


I naively believed that when a smart motorway was being operated they would have staff watching the cameras or there would be automatic detection, this clearly was not the case.  It must have been terrifying for the young driver; to get out of her car and behind the barrier must have taken some nerve and she must have thought help was coming automatically but instead it took a phonecall from a worried member of the public to help her.


April 2021