Smart motorway offenders to be offered training courses

12.00 | 10 January 2017 | | 4 comments

Drivers caught offending on smart motorways in England could be offered re-education courses, the National Police Chief’s Council has suggested.

Reported by the BBC today (10 Jan), the NPCC says it wants to create more awareness of the rules relating to smart motorways, and improve compliance with them.

Ideas under consideration include courses for people who break the variable speed limit, use lanes closed with a red X or use the hard shoulder when it has been closed.

Smart motorways operate variable speed limits and can open the hard shoulder to traffic to reduce congestion. There are currently more than 200 miles of smart motorway in England and Wales with another 200 miles either planned or currently under construction.

Figures obtained by BBC Radio 5live suggest an 18% rise in the number of people caught using the hard shoulder illegally between 2014-15 and 2015-16. In the last financial year there were 1,014 tickets issued by the 38 forces who responded to a freedom of information request, compared with 859 for the previous year.

Suzette Davenport, NPCC lead for roads policing, told the BBC that re-education courses would help motorists who are confused about when to use the hard shoulder as an extra lane.

Ms Davenport said: “We don’t have national driver offender retraining courses for the motorways. So if you get caught on the motorway you are going to get a ticket.

“Whereas we have about one million people a year on other road networks who are being caught driving and are going on national offender retraining. So we’ve been talking to Highways England about developing a course.

“The courses are based on academic rigour and research to make sure we are looking at the right attitudinal things so we are hopefully affecting people’s behaviour not just as they walk out of the classroom, but for some time to come."

Photo: Highways England via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

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    A little aside from the subject matter but running in tandem with it. Would it be possible to instruct other life saving and road safety messages whilst one has a captive audience so to speak? What I would like to see is tuition about the amount of safe space that a driver should give whilst on a motorway. With advanced driving at 70mph its given to be the distance between marker posts. In Sect.126 of the Highway Code that is the safe stopping distance at that speed.

    If in the picture used drivers are actually doing 40 mph then I can see that about a dozen drivers are disobeying this simple but basic rule of the road. Should they be at least a lamp post apart then they are more than likely to be at least 120 ft apart (approximately) which is a much safer following on distance. Safer for everyone.

    As Ms.Davenport said: ‘The courses are based on academic rigour and research to make sure that we are looking at the right attitudinal things’. I therefore would suggest tuition on basic safe following on distances at least. That would be a start to the right attitude.

    Bob Craven Lancs
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    As a regular and frustrated user of mis-named ‘SMART’ motorways – there’s nothing smart about how they are operated outside of congested or peak times. There is no red X when the system is turned off – so I see drivers mistakenly driving on the hard shoulder. Twice in one week I ground to a halt in the hard-shoulder running lane on the M6 as the control room had failed to notice broken down vehicles. I’d like to see ‘smart’ motorways scrapped and the return of a permanent hard shoulder, then no one will get confused.

    Paul Biggs, Staffordshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Drivers have no way of knowing whether a lane closure is a continuing live incident or an oversight and they should not be risking their own and other peoples safety by attempting to second guess whether this might be the case. A series of big red crosses above a lane is clear in any language. Anyone driving in the closed lane has made a decision to do so.

    Honor Byford, North Yorkshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I heard an advert for smart motorways on the radio. They said lanes marked “X” should not be used but failed to mention that citizens could be prosecuted if they did not obey.

    I have personally witnessed several occasions where the operators have made mistakes (lanes marked “X” or speed limits reduced and then forgotten to restore). Citizens may end up paying fines, or paying to go on courses because operators have made mistakes. Such concerns of injustice are in addition to safety issues as none of the smart motorways have been installed within RCT scientific trials.

    Dave Finney, Slough
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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