The question of liability is one that doesn’t seem to worry those in charge at the Highways Agency, or government departments busy implementing the 4-lane motorway schemes across the UK. So called, Smart Motorways, have no hard shoulder and often feature a breakdown lay-by every few miles. The risk of a multi-vehcile collision is very high, and yet nobody in authority seems concerned that lives will be lost through poor road planning and unsafe design. Here’s some news from GEM Assist;
Road safety and breakdown cover specialist GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging drivers to put safety first on motorway journeys. The organisation is also calling for a stop to the rollout of smart motorways until a proper safety review has taken place -and sufficient refuge areas have been provided to assist stranded motorists.
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth offered some reassurance for drivers: “Motorways may be the fastest roads we use, but they are statistically also the safest; and there are fewer collisions on motorways than on other roads,” he said.
“However, the high speeds used on motorways mean that when there is a crash, it is likely to be more serious. That’s why on average around one in 50 motorway collisions is fatal, compared with one in 70 on all other roads.
“We are also asking ministers and highways authorities specifically to call a halt to their rollout of smart motorways across the country until a proper review of safety has been completed and adequate refuge areas provided for drivers.
“In order to maximise safety, we also urge drivers to ensure they know the rules and signs relating to smart motorways, which are becoming more commonplace.”
GEM says it is regrettable that in spite of the spread of smart motorways, there is still no specific advice contained in the Highway Code – a situation that is unacceptable, bearing in mind that so many motorists are being penalised every day for being at the wrong speed or in a closed lane.
“Understanding how a smart motorway works, and knowing what to do if you are unfortunate enough to experience a breakdown in a stretch of smart motorway, could well prove a lifesaver,” adds Neil Worth.
GEM has compiled 10 tips for safer motorway driving:
- Plan your journey so you know when to join and leave the motorway. You’re far less likely to be taken by surprise when it comes to choosing the correct lane at junctions and intersections.
- Choose a safe speed and use the left hand lane of the motorway unless you are overtaking.
- Check your following distance by the ‘two second rule’. Watch the vehicle in front go past a signpost, under a bridge or past some other reference point. Then speak out: “Only a fool breaks the two second rule.” If you pass the same point before you have finished the sentence, then you are too close.
- Double your following distance in wet weather.
- Scan the road a long way ahead so that you have early sight of developing hazards.
- Make regular mirror checks. If you observe a fast-approaching vehicle, then take steps to move out of its way. Before changing lanes, check your mirrors and blind spots, and indicate your intention to move either left or right. Only commence the manoeuvre when you know you can complete it safely.
- Avoid any sort of distraction. No mobile device, no interfering with stereo or satnav, no eating or drinking. Give 100% of your attention to driving.
- If you are about to miss your motorway exit, don’t make last-minute risky manoeuvres to leave the motorway. Continue to the next junction and turn around, or follow the revised satnav instructions.
- Familiarise yourself with the rules and signs that apply to smart motorways, so that you stay safe and avoid a ticket for speeding or using a closed lane.
- Knowing what to do if you break down in a stretch of smart motorway is a big help for road safety. Then you will know what to do if you experience a breakdown yourself, and will also understand what’s happening if another vehicle breaks down. GEM’s recently revised ‘Motorist’s Breakdown and Emergency Guide’ leaflet now includes details of what to do on a smart motorway in an emergency.