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Smart(?) Motorways


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Whilst there isnt one on my ground, the next ground over has a good portion of the M5 running through it. I dont think the attendance times have been affected. Buuuuuut  during its modification ( which takes 12-24 months ) there wasnt a hard shoulder so ive heard of alot of instances where trucks have had to reverse run to an incident and one where the traffic was so bad that the first attending pump had to place an “unable to proceed message” through to control

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Ohhh, were do I start. Yes, I have them running through my area and they do cause some trouble. We have the M60 with several motorways coming off them such as the M62, M61, M56 and the M66 just to name a few. 

I was mobilised to a RTC on one a couple of months and had to give up, I just would never have got there. Luckily we have pumps that didn't have to travel as far as myself, but even they struggled a bit. 

There is a piece of work being undertaken at the moment to look into possible "Reverse Flows" which I will save for another day. 😯

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 I understand the HA assumptions were, when planning & building smart motorways that a HATO would attend in minutes, secure the scene and facilitate 999 services driving up the now closed motorway the reverse direction.

Since then, the number of Highway Agency Traffic Officers has slipped as the miles of smart motorways have increased.

Not far from me, the M4 is being smartened. Much of the motorway (London to past Newbury) has a whole time PDA so may well arrive at the motorway  before the HATO. What then? Wait at the following junction for the HATO to squeeze their Land Rover thru the traffic to secure the scene?

Can any UK fire service appliance talk directly to the HATO attending as that might help?

It's a nonsense and contradicts the medical/extraction golden hour that has been used for many years

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We've got one running through our Brigade area, and ive been caught up in standing traffic for longer than id like, while the punters gradually realise they need to work together to let us through....it did occur to me the first time this happened that perhaps this hadn't been thought through thoroughly enough....

Just regarding reverse running, that isn going to happen unless the Police can confirm the road is closed and reverse running is permissible....The Brigade is quite picky about this, its not negotiable :) 


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There are a lot of complications with reverse flow, many of which you have already mentioned. 

The main ones are, that only the Police can do it, and would need to stop the flow on both sides of the motorway before we could be given access. This also has the added issues of where, as the main entry and exit can be many miles away and junctions would begin to back up and have a knock on effect. 

I guess we are lucky to have more stations than most but Manchester Traffic will be far greater than perhaps some of the more rural areas. I was once told by a highways chap that they use a rule of 1 minute of stopped traffic has a 1 mile tailback and can take unto 1 hour to return to normal flow. Anything more than 10 mins of stopped traffic just buggers it up all day. 

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We have loads..m25, m3, m23 and soon to be m25 jctns 10 -16 .

Reverse flow doesn't require both carriage ways to be closed, but it does require someone to take control (stop)  traffic at the head of the incident as Messy states (can be highways or police, could actually be fire !) then for it to be agreed as a safe system of work.

It requires lots of education of Joe public, and yes we have had incidents being stuck in lanes of traffic (red x compliance ?) But we also get these when there is a hard shoulder, (we've got some 6 and 7 lane sections !)to be honest our rtc numbers and attendance times haven't gone up significantly (although the traffic  numbers have)

Attached is the National Operating Agreement (NOA)

P.S tend to get more incidents during the build phase

And yes we can talk direct to Highways on scene on a multi agency talkgroup if required (I have actually done this)

When ESN(emergency services network) finally gets finished there is planned to be dedicated multi agency motorway talkgroups

Smart Motorways NOA Issue 1 V2 (1).pdf

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On 16/12/2018 at 15:55, Messyshaw said:

MPs are urging a halt to smart motorways (with no hard shoulder)

I am just wondering if anyone here has these motorways on their ground and how getting to a job has been affected? It must double the attended time doesn't it?

M60/M62/M602 interchange is in our area. Its horrendous!!!!! It might work if people obeyed a "red X" and didnt pass under them, therefore clearing the way on the run up. But then the vehicles that were caught shortly after an initial incident are gridlocked.

Big increase in attendance times. People spend more time looking at the gantries than at the road and slam brakes on when the signs change speed for fear of cameras. More accidents. 

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We got mobilised to a car fire (which turned out to be a rtc AND car fire) on the M11 motorway yesterday morning (after our first night) and all I’ll say is that without the hard shoulder we’d have been dangerously delayed.

Someone in an office somewhere has been paid a handsome sum of money to dream up the ‘smart motorway’ idea.

I despair.

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With the FBU flying high at the moment, I wonder if they have raised any concerns over Smart motorways? 

And what is this curse in the English language that is the new use for the word 'Smart'. Since when did that definition change to mean 'A stupid and ill conceived idea based on saving money at all costs rather than that the application of common sense and logic'

We have 'Smart Working' where I am employed. Its basically like musical chairs where a team of 20 get 14 desks and the last ones in have to sit elsewhere -perhaps on another floor - so you don't get to work alongside your colleagues and have to phone conference them. It also leads to a curious but daily sight of regiments of workers with plastic trays with their belongings wandering around like refugees looking for a desk.

And now 'Smart' Motorways; A cheap 21st Century motorway widening project, where you die of what were survivable injuries in the 1980s,  as the 999 service are stuck in a gridlock 5 miles away

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I spend half my life driving on motorways and I'm sick of them, you need a hard shoulder, no an extra lane.  Half the time I am on a smart motorway (mainly M62) there isnt much traffic anyway.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I used to work for the rac as a patrolman for 10 years and heavy recovery for a few years. I can honestly say they are useless. The emergency bays are tiny too. 

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The section of the M27 we cover has just started preliminary works ready for at least two years of conversion to smart motorway, along with remodelling of several roundabouts and the conversion of the road past our station to a dual carriageway. It’s nice to know that the months of 50mph narrow lanes and contraflow will be worth it once works are completed... oh wait! 

Highways England state ‘Our traffic model suggests that the average journey time will increase by a maximum of 13 minutes during our roadworks.’ Nearly half of our station use the motorway to get to work so be interesting to see how much this affects their commuting times. 

We haven’t really had much input on how we will have to modify our response so what experiences do people have of responding to incidents whilst the smart motorway roadworks are taking place? 

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@Firefox1608 it’s worth asking the question as to who from your service will sit on the meetings that the construction company hold before and during build.

I sat on the one for the M3 along with police etc, and we were able to influence a fair deal and instantly raise any concerns and issues re emergency access etc. Even getting access to temporary cameras etc.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I know that a truck from my station got called to a job on the M6, it was persons reported, vehicle on roof. Traffic at a standstill. The crew got as close as they could and had to go by door the last couple hundred meters. Luckily turned out all persons out of vehicles involved. Could have been a different story though.

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  • 7 months later...

A widow of a man killed whilst exchanging insurance details following a motorway prang is taking the Govt to court under Corporate Manslaughter claim

She hasn't a chance in hell, but it once again highlights the risks involved in building these cheap and cheerful motorways 

Smart motorways risk life

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  • 1 month later...

The French motorway system has hard shoulders, but now (and not just in France) there are frequent notices telling motorists that in traffic jams the should mote to the outer edges of lanes 1 and 2 to allow room for emergency vehicles to get through. You could also use the hard shoulder, but they are afraid that these will have vehicles on them.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The Govt review has come about as motorists find them too complicated and in the news link attached, nowhere is safety or access for 999 services mentioned.

If safety considerations are not the remit of this review, then don't expect any progress soon

Frankly it sounds like a pathetic excuse to conduct a review as a TV and internet campaign may be enough to educate people. I wonder if - like the recent review of HS2 - its all about cost? The M4 conversation to Smart motorway status J4 to J12) is costing around £900m and we all know that will creep to £1b + 

I hope the FBU and CFOA approach the Govt to ensure safety is included in the review as this will be a lost and last opportunity to stop this madness 

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  • 3 months later...

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