Smart motorway response does nothing to address the shortage of staff

21 April 2021

The government has announced changes to the way it runs Smart and All Lanes Running (ALR) motorways after safety concerns.


Smart and ALR motorways use the hard shoulder either all the time or part of the time which can be dangerous if someone breaks down as they have no safe place to pull over to. Amongst other things the new proposals involve the implementation of new tech which can spot when a car is stationary.

Garry Graham, Prospect deputy general secretary, said:

“The government review into Smart and ALR motorways makes some important recommendations, in particular the upgrade and introduction of new technology to make them safer. What it doesn’t address is the fact that we simply do not have enough traffic officers or regional operating centre (ROC) operators to make the system work.

“Technology can identify breakdowns but you need an operator in an ROC to spot the problem, and then you need traffic officers to resolve it. Numbers of both are in decline and without a marked boost in overall funding and in baseline pay, they will continue to do so.

“The review also falls short on addressing the unsafe nature of managing an incident on ALR motorway. Incursions into closed lanes have gone up significantly since the introduction of ALR motorways, putting traffic officers at risk.”


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