Reducing motorway delays

Posted on February 27th, 2012 by James Luckhurst

Reducing motorway delaysDid you know that big motorway hold-ups qualify for a mention on Cabinet meetings? Strange as that may see, traffic jams are competing for government attention with such big ticket items as the economy, Syria and NHS reform.

Why? It’s all because of recently-introduced directives from the top levels of government that have told the authorities to sharpen up their act when dealing with major motorway incidents.

That means better use of technology to reduce incident clear-up times, and a reduction in the police post-crash paperwork burden. Officers dealing with serious incidents have traditionally been under a lot of pressure from coroners to provide enormously detailed reports. But this is changing, and officers are now being warned that they are not agents of the coroner.

Take a suicide, for example. If a lone person is caught on CCTV (and the vast majority of the motorway network is now suitably covered) jumping from a bridge or stepping into the inside lane of a motorway, then senior police officers are rightly saying that it can be pretty well confirmed as a suicide immediately, and that the deceased can be swiftly removed from the carriageway within a few minutes. Job done. No need for a six-hour closure as measurements are taken, samples collected and the entire carriageway subjected to a microscopic search
for clues that no one needs anyway.

It should be stressed that the requirement to carry out proper investigations of fatal and life-changing collisions remains. But if common sense can prevail, then the level of economic and other disruption caused by motorway closures can be reduced considerably.

Bear this in mind. Estimates suggest that a six-hour carriageway closure is equal to a £3m loss to GDP. And that’s only for the traffic stuck on the motorway. Start adding in the gridlock that spreads onto nearby dual carriageways and urban streets and you quickly appreciate why it warrants a mention in Cabinet.