It's the old 'smart vs stupid' debate

Smart Motorways, really?

My regular morning run to the office is witness, for example, to stranded, broken down, accident-involved vehicles on most days but despite the camera coverage and paltry refuge areas (some smart motorways don't even have these for long stretches) running lanes are actually blocked by incidents and it must be very frightening for the vehicle occupants involved.

It's not at all unusual to see foreign trucks parked up in the 'refuges' for a quick satnav check, coffee or even a sleep!

There are other points to note too:

If there are cameras on the gantries, they go active almost at the moment the reduced speed limit appears, so it is possible to be clocked for speeding when at the time you went under the gantry you weren't.

Added to which, the 'wave effect' is exactly the same. The new limit shows, everyone slows down. Because everyone is following too closely there is a flare of brake lights and everyone slows down - this simply goes further and further back through the queue, creating the very problem that the smart motorways are supposed to reduce.

It might also be worth commenting on the fact that while the 'smart' bits are being built, they cause huge traffic disruption - sometimes for years.

Witness the stretch of the M1 north of Nottingham where the whole central barrier had to be rebuilt just prior to re-opening because the 'wrong sort of concrete' had been used.

And those average speed cameras? The average speed of drivers who were so fed up from years of crawling who made it into Nottingham Magistrates court was...80 mph.

There are some positives:

Better advance information;

Junction to junction journey times.

On the third hand, they can be a nightmare for the emergency services trying to get to somewhere as the 'smart' system rarely closes a lane to allow their access.

Maybe not so smart after all but let's not dismiss them altogether. Perhaps the really smart bit would be to include frequent users (not boffins, scientists, traffic analysts - who spend their working lives indoors - or politicians, 'departments') in the conversations which (surely??) must take place before their introduction.

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