Written evidence submitted by Mr Martin Hurst (RSM0063)

Copy of email sent to Grant Shapps in January 2020 re Smart Motorways, the comments are still as valid now as they were then and provide evidence for Commons Transport Select Committee (TSC)
 

This incident in question occurred in Summer 2010 travelling westwards on the A30 dual carriageway shortly after Exeter Airport.  If I had needed to rely on reaching a reservation, I hate to think of the consequences.

 

Dear Mr Shapps

From personal experiences the current use of smart motorways should be cancelled.

1) The safe zones do not account for catastrophic car failure
When travelling home from holiday one year I was in the outside lane of a dual carriageway when my timing belt snapped. As a result all power was lost and I was extremely lucky that there was light traffic and I could avoid traffic on the inside lane and managed to steer the car to the hard shoulder. I would not have made it to a safe reservation. 
If I had stopped in traffic without a reservation we would have been lucky to get out to a safe area and have been at risk of being hit by another vehicle.
If I had been stuck in the dark, even in the inside lane, my lights would not have lasted for long and I would have been at even more risk than during daylight.

2) There was better traffic flow during the smart motorway  roadworks on the m3 towards the m25 than afterwards
Before the roadworks began there was no traffic flow mechanism and it could take me well over an hour to get to Heathrow in the early morning.
As part of the roadworks average speed cameras of max 50mph were introduced between fleet/farnborough and the m25 and traffic was also restricted to two lanes
BUT
Traffic was much better as there were no longer stop & start cycles and instead occasional slight slowing dow as new traffic joined. As a result my journey took a lot less and I also had less stress.

I thought the idea of removing the hard shoulder, which made our main roads some of the safest in Europe was a bad idea at the start and this has been borne out by the recent incidents on the m1 near my home town of Sheffield.

There is a benefit however in using the average speed cameras that have been put in place when there are busy periods.

With the use of these and reinstating the hard shoulder the motorways can be as safe as they once were, perhaps even better, and further costs avoided.
All the vast amounts of money that have been mis-spent on the change and the impact on drivers through lengthy roadworks could have been avoided and the money spent on fixing the general road deterioration issues like pot-holes which continue to create problems , some of which have been fatal as well.

 

April 2021