Announcement on Smart Motorways is welcome but more must be done on staffing

12 January 2022

The government has today (12 January 2022) responded to the Commons Transport Select Committee report on Smart motorways with a number of measures.

The measures include pausing the roll out of All Lanes Running Smart motorways, building more safe refuge areas, greater use of stopped vehicle detection technology and more oversight of health and safety on the road network by the Office of Rail and Road.

Prospect is the union which represents the most staff in Highways England.

Garry Graham, deputy General Secretary of Prospect, responded:

“The decision by the government to delay the roll out of All Lanes Running Smart motorways for information gathering is welcome and goes some way towards addressing the safety issues Prospect and others have been raising for some time. Increased use of software to detect stopped vehicles, and more frequent safe refuge areas are both things we have been calling for and which will make motorway operation safer.

“What’s missing though is any recognition of the role played by Traffic Officers and staff in Operations Centres in making Smart Motorways safe. These are the people who identify and then co-ordinate the response to incidents, and who are first responders on the scene.

“There are currently staff shortages in some parts of the country for both Traffic Officers and Operations Centre staff, made worse by the recent pay freeze. Pay rates need to be looked at again to make sure pay is line with other emergency service workers or we will continue to struggle to recruit and retain sufficient staff.”

Public Services

From protecting our rivers to keeping us safe, Prospect members do vital work across a range of professions.


Prospect has members working in aviation, road, rail and maritime transportation, as well as regulation and research.