ABD warns against ‘cost-cutting motorway scheme’

12.00 | 19 July 2012 | | 5 comments

The Government’s intention to “extract the maximum capacity from the motorway network at the lowest possible cost” could jeopardise road safety, says the Association of British Drivers (ABD).

Until now, ‘managed motorway’ schemes only allowed the hard shoulder to be used as a running lane at times of peak traffic flow, when variable speed limits apply. But now, starting with a managed motorway scheme on part of the M1, the hard shoulder will be in use at all times, often with the speed limit at 70mph. The distance between refuge areas will be four times greater, and the outside lane will also be reduced in width to 3.2 metres from 3.65 metres.

The ABD says it expressed its concerns about the safety of managed motorways when they were first proposed in 2004, and discussed these concerns with the consultants working on the pilot M42 scheme.

Malcolm Heymer, the ABD’s traffic management adviser, said: “The consultants explained at length how the safety issues were going to be addressed. I was impressed with the sincerity of their determination to produce a safe and effective scheme. Subsequent experience shows that, whilst there are other issues with the usefulness and application of variable limits, the current schemes work reasonably well with regard to safety.

“These new proposals, however, show that we were right to be concerned that managed motorways were the thin end of a make-do-and-mend wedge, and now it seems even safety is to be compromised to reduce costs further.”

The ABD claims it is not alone in its fears about the safety of future managed motorway schemes. Local authorities and emergency services in South Yorkshire have voiced their concerns about the M1 scheme, with the emergency services commissioning an independent review of the plans.

Brian Gregory, ABD chairman, says: “These cost-cutting proposals are a step too far and we call on the House of Commons Transport Committee to hold an inquiry into their safety as a matter of urgency. With drivers paying five times as much in taxes as is spent on the road network, we deserve better.”

For more information contact the ABD on 0870 4442535.


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    I don’t think so. What I would advocate is good policing of motorways and enforcement of road traffic legislation. If that results in hauliers reducing the size of their vehicles I don’t think it will.

    U never see Eddie Sobbart drivers doing the stupid things that others do, such as tailgating some 20 ft behind other heavies and making up a convoy some half a dozen vehicles, or travelling side by side at a no advantage overtaking speed slowing everything else up. Creating a bottleneck and possible accident that could be avoided.

    On the other hand there may be something to be said about certain areas being allowed to use the 4th lane as a pressure release as opposed to say the whole of the M6 which is a long road. That would be of benefit but once again most hold ups are caused by HGV drivers behaving in an unlawful way, stop that from happening and things will improve and traffic will travel more safely.

    bob craven Lancs
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    Where managed motorways have been implimented on the M6 & M42 it seems to have worked very well without major incident. We need to manage network capacity effectively, restricting HGV use is not the way to do it and could just lead to more smaller vehicles on the roads and push up prices of goods.

    Dave, Leeds
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    I truly hope Dave that my scenario doesn’t happen, I will not be singing it from the rooftops if it happens or saying I told u so.

    There is some logic in what they are doing. If you put a number of rats into cages with passages between and then restrict the through traffic within those passages, the rats become very unfriendly, even aggressive fighting or biting each other because of that closer proximity.

    That sometimes happens when two HGVs drive together for miles at a time. Congestion, that is. Frustration, anger – it’s inbred into human nature as well as that of rats.

    One can relieve that congestion pressure by increasing the number of lanes. I just hope that there is not a cost in terms of human life. One can on the other hand reduce the number of HGVs on our motorways or legislate to prevent them from driving without reasonable consideration by driving side by side.

    bob Craven Lancs
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    Suppose that does happen, Bob, that is just the downside, what about the upside?

    If this proposal is not implemented and the motorways clog up, drivers may use A roads instead (leading to more deaths), or could take up motorcycling (leading to more deaths).

    This proposal could save lives, though there might be no way to measure that.

    We are close to bankrupt so we have no cash and have to consider better use of the resources we have.

    Dave Finney – Slough
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    I wait for the first major pile up and the ensuing deaths due to the inability of the emergency services to attend within a reasonable time. Unfortunately.

    bob craven Lancs
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