191028 Transport Committee to Highways England re Smart Motorways

28/10/2019 Transport Committee
House of Commons, London, SWIA OAA
Tel 020 7219 3266

to Jim O’Sullivan
Chief Executive
Highways England
Bridge House 1 Walnut Tree Close
Guildford GUI 4LZ

pdf version of the letter here, lilian-greenwood-mp-to-jim-osullivan-highways-england-oral-evidence-session-follow-up-28102019 text below

Dear Jim,

Thank you for appearing before the Committee last week.
We tried to cover as much as we could during the session, but I’m sure you will understand that there were several questions we didn’t have time to cover and I also wanted to ask for some further detail on some of your responses. I’d be grateful if you could provide answers to the following questions.

All Lane Running


1. Can you provide us with details of how much converting conventional motorways to smart motorways costs per mile, and how this has changed over time?
Public awareness and opinion

2. What efforts are being made to improve public understanding of how to use All Lane Running, for instance through education campaigns? Do you recognise there is a gap here that needs to be addressed? What responsibility do you believe Highways England has to ensure people know how to use smart motorways?

3. In 2014 an Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) survey with 1,582 responses, showed that 71 % of motorists felt less safe on All Lane Running motorways and 67% had seen no publicity on smart motorways. Have you surveyed motorists on how this has changed since 2014? How has your approach to public awareness campaigns changed in the last five years? What evidence do you have that this has been effective?

Comparative safety data

4. Could you provide us with comparative safety data for fatalities per vehicle mile on conventional motorways, smart motorways with a hard shoulder and All Lane Running motorways?

5. Could you provide us with comparative safety data on the proportion of vehicles that breakdown in live lines on conventional motorways, smart motorways with a hard shoulder and All Lane Running motorways?

6. What proportion of the 38% of breakdowns on ALR smart motorways that breakdown in a live line are in the lane that was previously the hard shoulder?

Emergency Refuge Areas

7. An estimated 71% of stops in Emergency Refuge Areas are currently not related to an emergency. What action are you taking to address this? Have you set targets to reduce stops of this kind?

8. Has Highways England made any efforts to tackle the high rates of Emergency Refuge Area misuse committed by Heavy Goods Vehicle drivers, as identified by the previous Committee in its 2016 report?

9. You told us that all new smart motorways will have Emergency Refuge Areas every mile. Do you have any plans to retrofit additional Emergency Refuge Areas to already existing smart motorways, where these are currently at less frequent intervals?

Stopped Vehicle Detection systems

10. You told us that you plan to retrofit Stopped Vehicle Detection systems onto all already existing All Lane Running schemes. Can you provide us with more details on these plans, including timescales, and broken down by scheme where possible?

1 1 . Highways England’s Stopped Vehicle Detection system has been shown to be only 90% effective in detecting a single stopped vehicle. What safety provisions are being put in place to account for the 10% of the time when this system doesn’t work?

12. What assurances can Highways England provide that any alternative Stopped Vehicle Detection systems that may be implemented in the future will provide the same level of safety as the system that is currently in operation?

13. Can you provide us with more information on how Highways England chose the Stopped Vehicle Detection system technology that is being deployed and why you have not used the version that is used on some German roads?

Red xs

14. How have you educated motorists about the meaning of Red Xs on smart motorways, and what action have you undertaken to publicise the fact that driving in a lane where a Red X is displayed will now automatically result in a fine?

Safety statistics for non-vehicle users

15. Could you provide us with non-motorway safety statistics for non-vehicle users (e.g. pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders) and any trends in these statistics over the last ten years?

Accidents involving construction workers

16. Could you provide us with statistics, by year from 2016/17, on accidents involving construction workers who had closed a lane. What has been your approach to reducing accidents of this type?

The new A428 dual carriageway

17. Could you provide us with more information on the ways in which the new A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet dual carriageway will incorporate cyclists into its design and meet national standards in this regard?

Pav structure of Highways England

18. We have received correspondence raising concerns about low pay awards despite Highways England not being subject to the pay remit guidance which ties government departments to a 1.5 per cent pay cap. Can you provide an update of past pay awards, plans for future pay awards, and the basis on which pay awards have been decided?

19. We understand that there has been a significant increase in the number of Highways England’s senior staff earning over £100,000. Can you provide us with information on the number and proportion of your staff who earn over £100,000, and how this has changed and why in recent years?

20. A Freedom of Information request submitted by PCS on 31 October 2018, found only 8 of your 58 senior permanent staff paid over £100,000 were female. What have you done to increase gender diversity in the higher pay grades of your organisation since then?

I’d be grateful if you could answer these questions by Friday 8 November.

Yours sincerely

Lilian Greenwood MP
Chair of the Transport Committee