A group of Britain’s leading experts on enforcement say that current concerns about smart motorways could be mitigated with better driver education, in a way that has worked with speed cameras and other enforcement measures.
ITS (UK)’s Enforcement Forum discussed how presenting facts to drivers about speed cameras has changed perception from “cash cows” aimed at extracting fines from motorists to become necessary safety solutions.
Discussing smart motorways, the Forum agreed that every life lost or serious injury is a tragedy not just for those involved but also their loved ones and the emergency services who have to deal with the aftermath. But they noted concerns that comparing figures about casualties and near misses on traditional motorways with those on smart motorways were not necessarily comparing like with like, fuelling the idea that smart motorways are less safe, despite other statistics suggesting this is not the case.
The Forum suggested that much more driver education is needed to explain how to drive on a smart motorway, red-X enforcement, what to do in the event of a breakdown and what technology exists to keep them safe. It was noted that motorways are by far the safest roads in the UK, but that “perception is reality” so perception needs to change.
Speed camera perception has changed, with surveys suggesting that 80 per cent of the population see them now as a vital safety tool rather than a way to extract money from motorists. This has followed years of factual reporting of the values of cameras and how casualties are reduced around them, with traffic flow improving too.
“ITS (UK) Forums are all about sharing expertise,” said Enforcement Forum Chair Geoff Collins of Jenoptik. “We believe we have been successful in changing perception of enforcement by using facts. Some of the smart motorway discussions have been emotive with selective use of statistics – it will take a concerted effort to change perception now, but we have shown it is possible.”
The ITS (UK) Enforcement meeting was hosted by Jenoptik and sponsored by Videalert.