Smart motorway a '˜recipe for disaster' says ex-cop

A retired Derbyshire traffic officer says the section of smart motorway on the M1 is a '˜recipe for disaster'.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 30th January 2017, 4:47 pm
Updated Monday, 30th January 2017, 4:51 pm
Photo by @DerbyshireRPU
Photo by @DerbyshireRPU

Ian Windmill was speaking after a woman was seriously injured in a collision between a broken down car and a van on the southbound carriageway between junctions 28 and 29 on Thursday.

Mr Windmill, a former sergeant with the Derbyshire Roads Policing Unit, told BBC Radio Derby lives were being put in danger as a result of the changes.

He said: “What information has been given to motorists to say what is the safest option? Do you stay in the lane you are in or do you try to get to lane one.

“This lady who was injured was in lane one supposedly when she was hit by the van.

“There is just no safe place to break down and for Highways England to say it is safe it is just frankly ridiculous. My advice is to buy a decent car so you don’t have a blow out or break down.”

The section of smart motorway - which dispenses with a hard shoulder in favour of refuge areas and warning lights - opened last April.

If there is an accident, red lights ‘close’ lanes - but the system relies on close monitoring and drivers paying attention.

The controversy comes amid criticism of the changes by an influential parliamentary committee which said its concerns were being ignored.

Labour MP and chairman of the transport select committee, Louise Ellman, said: “We take real issue with the government’s assertion that all-lane running schemes on motorways are no different to other types of roads without hard shoulders.

“In the course of our inquiry, there were genuine concerns raised by the emergency services, road workers and recovery operators. The government cannot ignore them.”

A Highways England spokesperson said: “Safety is our top priority and we continually work with partners, including the police to review safety on all our roads, including the M1.

“We are aware of an incident on the M1 which is still being investigated by the police. As such it would be inappropriate to comment further while these investigations continue.”

The woman who was injured in the collision remains in a serious condition at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.