News

Smart motorway ‘computer glitch’ led to terrifying six-car pile-up on M6 after ENTIRE safety system shut down in a ‘catastrophic failure’, insider claims


A ‘computer glitch’ led to a terrifying six-car pile-up on the M6 after the safety system shut down in a ‘catastrophic failure’, insiders have claimed. 

A car was left like a ‘sitting duck’ after breaking down on a lane on the southbound M6 on Jan 19, leaving the vehicle stranded on an inside lane which used to be a hard shoulder. 

In the bombshell revelation, a whistleblower claimed that the National Highways’ systems ‘crashed’, disabling radar technology that could pick up the broken down vehicle in the life-threatening incident which lasted for three hours.

The car was unable to move to the emergency refuge area and was hit by vehicles between junctions 3A and 3 near Coventry, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Those involved in the collision suffered minor injuries, with the whistleblower describing the fact that no one died as ‘pure luck’. 

Control centres across England were offline, with just the South East and East remaining in action,

In the bombshell revelation, a whistleblower claimed that the National Highways' systems 'crashed', disabling radar technology that could pick up the broken down vehicle

In the bombshell revelation, a whistleblower claimed that the National Highways’ systems ‘crashed’, disabling radar technology that could pick up the broken down vehicle

Due to the glitch, control room staff were unable to close lanes to traffic, set speed limits and electronic signs or use CCTV cameras.

The anonymous insider told The Daily Telegraph: ‘We had no stopped vehicle detection systems, no CCTV and no control of signals and signs.

‘The fact no one was killed is pure luck.

‘Thankfully, God was watching over them, because we certainly weren’t.’

Campaigner Claire Mercer, 47, who has urged the Government to scrap all smart motorways after her husband, Jason, died on the M1 in 2019, said that it was only a matter of time before lives would be lost on on the perilous motorways in a ‘preventable tragedy’.

She told the paper: ‘How many more terrifying systems failures and live lane breakdowns are taking place that we do not hear about?

Ms Mercer added that in this case, the driver on the M6 had moved as far left as possible, but was ‘left like a sitting duck’ because there was no hard shoulder.

She added: ‘That technology failure meant a breakdown became a mass pile-up. When Dynac and its safety systems fail, smart motorways become dumb motorways.’

Campaigner Claire Mercer, 47, who has urged the Government to scrap all smart motorways after her husband, Jason, died on the M1 in 2019

Campaigner Claire Mercer, 47, who has urged the Government to scrap all smart motorways after her husband, Jason, died on the M1 in 2019

Ms Mercer added that in this case, the driver on the M6 had moved as far left as possible, but was 'left like a sitting duck' because there was no hard shoulder

Ms Mercer added that in this case, the driver on the M6 had moved as far left as possible, but was ‘left like a sitting duck’ because there was no hard shoulder

Jason Mercer (pictured) and another man, Alexandru Murgeanu, died in 2019 when they were hit by a lorry on the M1 near Sheffield

Jason Mercer (pictured) and another man, Alexandru Murgeanu, died in 2019 when they were hit by a lorry on the M1 near Sheffield

The safety systems shut down a total of 41 times last summer, which operate by detecting breakdowns on motorways with no hard shoulder and control the network’s CCTV to detect people at risk.

But between April and August 2023, there were electricity supply problems lasting a total of 541 hours across 52 separate days, with eight locations having outages that lasted more than 24 hours.

Smart motorways without a hard shoulder were also found to be three times more lethal to break down on than those that retain the safety lane in a damning report released in December last year.

The study by National Highways, the quango responsible for major roads, also showed that the rate of ‘killed and serious injury’ (KSI) incidents during breakdowns on smart motorways with no permanent hard shoulder has increased by 10 per cent.

KSI tragedies increased for three out of five schemes with five years’ worth of safety data since having their hard shoulder removed. These were the M1 junctions 39 to 42, M25 junctions 5 to 7 and M6 junctions 11A to 13.

Smart motorways without a hard shoulder were also found to be three times more lethal to break down on than those that retain the safety lane

Smart motorways without a hard shoulder were also found to be three times more lethal to break down on than those that retain the safety lane

The study by National Highways showed that the rate of 'killed and serious injury' (KSI) incidents during breakdowns on smart motorways with no permanent hard shoulder has increased by 10 per cent

The study by National Highways showed that the rate of ‘killed and serious injury’ (KSI) incidents during breakdowns on smart motorways with no permanent hard shoulder has increased by 10 per cent

The safety systems shut down a total of 41 times last summer, which operate by detecting breakdowns on motorways with no hard shoulder and control the network's CCTV

The safety systems shut down a total of 41 times last summer, which operate by detecting breakdowns on motorways with no hard shoulder and control the network’s CCTV

In April last year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced he was halting new smart motorways from being built.

But he stopped short of scrapping more than 400 miles of existing schemes which have their hard shoulder permanently removed.

Ms Mercer said the Prime Minister ‘lacked the nerve’ to outright scrap smart motorways, suggesting that Mr Sunak was put off from getting rid of the dangerous motorways because of the revenue generated from fines and the ‘big contracts’ that are awarded to private contractors to build them.

Jason Mercer and another man, Alexandru Murgeanu, died in 2019 when they were hit by a lorry on the M1 near Sheffield after they stopped on the inside lane of the smart motorway section following a minor collision.

Writing for the Mail in 2021, Ms Mercer describe how while posing for the photograph that accompanied the article at the bridge overlooking the junction on the M1 where her husband was killed, she heard a ‘sickening thud’. 

In April last year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced he was halting new smart motorways from being built

In April last year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced he was halting new smart motorways from being built

It turned out to be a collision between a car and a lorry on the other side of the road.

Ms Mercer wrote: ‘A lorry had slammed into a car and dragged it hundreds of yards down the carriageway. I was in shock: my own husband, after all, had died on the opposite side of the same stretch of road’.

Edmund King, the president of AA, told The Daily Telegraph: ‘As we have been warning for years, this smart motorway experiment has failed yet again putting lives at risk by leaving car occupants as sitting ducks.

‘Drivers have never trusted the system, so scrapping all smart motorways is likely to be a big election issue.’

The National Highways spokesman added: ‘As with any technology, there are occasional planned and unplanned outages and so we have well-rehearsed procedures to deal with issues which arise.

‘We have additional measures to limit any impact on drivers or traffic flow, including increased patrolling by our traffic officers and active monitoring of CCTV.’



Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button