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Smart motorway lanes closed for more than a month due to breakdowns – AA 

Smart motorway lanes closed for more than a month due to breakdowns – AA 
Vehicles broken down in a live lane on the All Lane Running section of the M3 (J2-4a) have caused more than 945 hours of disruption over a two-year period*. The AA has consistently called for double the number of emergency refuge areas (ERA) which would reduce this problem. 

A freedom of information request uncovered by the AA has found that more than 2,200 incidents failed to reach an ERA and forced the lane to be closed in order to protect the vulnerable vehicle. 

During the same period 271 traffic collisions caused more than 13 days of lane closures with an average re-opening time of 70 minutes and 158 obstructions closed lanes for more than two and a half days. 

A table of incidents and times can be found below: 

M3 Aug 2017 - Oct 2019

 

HH:MM:SS

Reason

Number of incidents

Total time closed

Ave closure time

Breakdowns

2227

945:25:27

00:25:28

Traffic Collision

271

318:44:12

01:10:34

Obstruction

158

67:52:10

00:25:46

Other

84

08:28:05

00:06:03

Infrastructure Defect

17

46:19:29

02:43:30

Fire

15

45:45:36

02:51:02

Animal on Network

12

04:30:30

00:22:32

Abandoned Vehicle

10

08:41:37

00:52:10

Pedestrian on Network

5

01:39:13

00:19:51

Spillage

1

00:01:00

00:01:00

Suicide/Attempted Suicide

1

00:11:00

00:11:00

Weather Conditions

1

04:12:00

04:12:00

TOTALS

2802

1451:50:19

00:25:37

 

As previous research by the AA has uncovered, it takes on average Highways England 17 minutes to spot a broken-down vehicle in a live lane** so stranded motorists could have been waiting longer than the times outlined above. 

Evidence stocktake 

At present, the Department for Transport is undertaking an evidence stocktake into the safety of 'smart' motorways. The AA hopes that the review will lead to the following outcomes; 

Double the number of ERAs by reducing spacing of ERAs from 1.5-mile and 1.0-mile standards to 0.75 miles and retrofit where practical.

Retrofit latest and best Stopped Vehicle Detection (SVD) system on all stretches of ALR as soon as possible.

End Dynamic Hard Shoulder schemes and on existing stretches revert to a permanent hard shoulder or All Lane Running if adequate ERAs/SVD.

Launch a major DfT Think! driver education programme with help from motoring organisations.

Increased number of Highways England Traffic Officers and Regional Control Centre staff.

Improve deployment and speed of Red X signs after notification of incident.

Enforce Red X infringements via camera. 

Edmund King, AA president says; "One of the main selling points of 'smart' motorways was to ease congestion but the number of live lane stops and lane closures is undermining its effectiveness.

"While some lane closures are inevitable, many of the 2,200 breakdowns could have found a safer place to stop if there were more emergency laybys.

"Tailbacks build at a mile a minute, so lengthy lane closures mean unnecessary jams are created which adds to congestion. 

"This further highlights the need for more emergency refuge areas."

*Article Source www.aa.com