Prospect’s traffic officers proved right on Smart motorways

Prospect’s traffic officers proved right on Smart motorways

The head of Highways England has said that Smart motorways, which use a hard shoulder at busy times, are “too complicated for people to use”.

Chief executive Jim O’Sullivan told the Commons transport select committee in October that drivers were confused about when they could use the hard shoulder and when it is closed.

“Some hard shoulders on dynamic smart motorways are only open to running traffic during the morning and evening peaks, but this catches out some drivers when their routine changes,” Mr O’Sullivan told MPs.

“I don’t think we will be building any more dynamic hard shoulder smart motorways.”

His statement came almost three years after the same committee said that the government should not proceed with ‘all lane running’ schemes while major safety concerns exist.

As Prospect represents members working as Traffic Officers on the motorway network, the union submitted written evidence to the original consultation in 2016.

The committee’s MPs then invited Prospect reps to give oral evidence on the plans.

Prospect said it was concerned about the safety of its traffic officers and the public. In particular, it raised:

  • the lack of public knowledge of the all lane running system, and the new signage that goes with it
  • the number and places of refuges for broken down cars and
  • the efficiency of the technology being introduced.

You can find Prospect’s evidence at