How will Smart motorways actually make roads safer? | Zella Compton

Work on the M27 to turn it into a Smart motorway
Work on the M27 to turn it into a Smart motorway
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I read last week that there’s to be a review of the safety of Smart motorways. It is highly pertinent for all of us as our beloved (ha ha) M27 is currently being converted.

I’ve never actually travelled on a Smart motorway that I am aware of, the ones that have signage to show which lanes are open and closed.

But I have travelled on plenty which show decreased speed limits which no-one takes any notice of whatsoever.

They continue zipping along at tremendous speed, only to ram on the brakes when they actually catch up to the traffic jam, causing another traffic jam behind them in the process.

That pushes the problem back another 20 miles to a whole new set of car and lorry drivers who are ignoring the ‘slow down’ signs. 

There’s probably a huge and exciting science behind the causes of traffic jam from volume of cars and managing the flow and it surely includes the vagaries of the human mind which simply ignores stuff it doesn’t believe or can’t see. 

But what we all apparently won’t see with the Smart motorway design is hard shoulders.

And what we all don’t see either is the likelihood of our car breaking down.

But it’s not hard for anyone to see that therein lies a problem when the two occur.

Apparently the Smart controller should be able to spy a breakdown within three minutes and divert traffic around the problem.

I get the theory, I do, but surely a hard shoulder meant the driver could pull over and there was no need to divert traffic around them in the first place?

Probably there’s a traffic management scientist reading this, gritting their teeth at my stupidity for not getting the point, so please do enlighten me as to how Smart motorways can cope with those safety problems?

After being stranded on the M27 with three young children, and lorries thundering past, cars streaking by, and a few caravans careening in the wind, I know exactly how terrifying it is.

The Smart answer would have been to review this problem before any works started, not now.

An exuberant showstopper of a series – catch it now

What a fantastic series Fosse / Verdon was. Catch it on iPlayer.

It tells the tale of the relationship between Bob Fosse – a terrific choreographer and sexual predator – and Gwen Verdon, a broadway triple threat (singing, dancing, acting) who aided, abetted and led Fosse in some great joint musical creations.

It didn’t do so well in terms of critical review but I loved every second of its non-linear storytelling, its non-specific point of view and its general brilliance of moments from Cabaret, Chicago and Sweet Charity.

It was Fosse who inspired Michael Jackson’s best and most well-known moves.

Watch it for its exuberance, passion and hat-tipping wow. 

The Haka isn’t scary, it’s a vibrant celebration of life

We were treated to the Haka at the weekend by the New Zealand rugby team, and a super win by England.

I’m not over the top into rugby to be honest, I don’t mind it being on in the background but I’d not go out of my way for it.

What I would do though, is go out of my way to watch the Haka, it’s totally cool.

I don’t get why it’s scary. Perhaps once, a million years before the internet, it’d have been surprising and thus a little out of the normal.

But now it feels like a celebration of life and culture, not a terrifying ritual.

One I want to watch and find bewitching, and there is no offence intended in any way to cultural traditions.