Not smart highway safety in fatal crash: Driver dies after his car stalled on a stretch of road without life-saving technology
- A man in his 40s was killed between junctions 16 and 17 in the early hours of Monday morning
- Street bosses are facing questions about whether the tragedy was avoidable
- SVD systems are still not operational nearly five years after the line opened
- SVD warns traffic officers and CCTV workers of vehicles stranded in traffic
A motorist died in an accident after a breakdown on a Smart highway where life-saving technology was not operational – almost five years after the line opened.
Road bosses are facing questions about whether the tragedy on the M1 could have been avoided had stopped vehicle detection (SVD) systems been fitted earlier.
The technology was installed at the crash site but is not yet operational. National Highways said it needs more testing before going live.
Road bosses are facing questions about whether the tragedy on the M1 could have been avoided had stopped vehicle detection (SVD) systems been fitted earlier
The Northamptonshire track opened in November 2017, but SVD only started installation in October last year.
This is despite the Roads Authority promising MPs in 2016 that all smart highways would be SVD-equipped and operational within a few years.
The SVD system is designed to alert Traffic Cops and CCTV personnel to vehicles stuck in moving traffic, often on All Lane Running (ALR) motorways where the hard shoulder will be permanently removed.
A man in his 40s was killed between junctions 16 and 17 on the M1 in the early hours of Monday morning after his Mercedes stalled in the inside lane.
Four others were injured when a Toyota Previa struck the rear of the Mercedes at around 3:16 a.m.
An internal National Highways operations log obtained by the Mail reveals how the incident unfolded.
The development of the intelligent motorway at junction 14 of the M1, with the distinctive long purple power cable on the median
It reads: “We were not aware of the vehicle at the time it happened, so no [safety] Signs and signals were in place,” adding that there had been “a number of near misses” before the crash.
The tragedy happened when three National Highways chiefs received £60,000 in awards last year.
Chief Executive Nick Harris received a £20,000 bonus, bringing his total compensation for 2021-22 to £355,124, while his predecessor also pocketed £20,000 despite resigning a year earlier over criticism of the introduction of smart motorways.
And chief financial officer Vanessa Howlison was also given a £20,000 bonus.
A spokesman for the Department of Transport said: “Our deepest sympathy goes out to all those affected by this tragic incident.
“While the rollout of new smart highways pauses, we will continue to improve the safety of the smart highways in operation.
“This includes investing £900m to equip them with stopped vehicle detection, surveillance cameras and additional places to stop in an emergency.”
Andrew Butterfield, National Highways director of service delivery, said: “Every road fatality is a tragedy and our thoughts go out to everyone affected by this incident.
“At this early stage, while it is being investigated, it would not be appropriate for us to comment on the circumstances or the cause.”