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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

National Highways deploy SVD technology six months ahead of target

Latest ORR report shows National Highways deployment ahead of target.

National Highways have met their Stop Vehicle Detection (SVD) targets for the year according to the latest report from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

The ORR's first annual assessment of safety performance on the strategic road network (SRN) in England, published today, includes the operation and effectiveness of the end-to-end safety system on England’s smart motorways.

The ORR reports that National Highways had SVD technology in place on every existing ALR smart motorway by the end of September 2022, six months ahead of its original March 2023 milestone. However this increased pace of delivery, in response to the action plan target which aims to reduce the duration of live lane stops, has given the company limited opportunity to apply lessons learnt.

National Highways chief executive Nick Harris said: “Our roads are among the safest in the world but every road death is a tragedy and we know there’s more we can do to further improve safety. The report acknowledges the good progress we have made in a number of areas, including completing most of the actions in the smart motorway stocktake action plan.

“It’s right that road users expect high performance standards, that’s why we’re committing £105m over the next two years to build further resilience into the operational technology to make journeys even safer and more reliable.”

However, The ORR’s report shows that the actual performance of stopped vehicle detection is falling short of the performance requirements the company set itself.

One issue is false detection rates on ALR smart motorways across all National Highways’ regions, which are substantially above the required maximum. The company’s specification states that false alerts may not constitute more than 15% of all alerts but performance ranged from 63.8% to 83.5% across the regions.

Overall detection rates are below National Highways’ minimum requirement of 80%. None of the company’s five regions with ALR smart motorways are meeting this requirement, achieving between 59.6% and 79.6%. Meanwhile, the required average time to detect stopped vehicles in less than 20 seconds is not being met. Four out of five of National Highways’ regions with ALR

In addition to the core SVD functionality, National Highways is failing to achieve the availability performance targets for essential supporting systems. The availability of variable message signs was below the 95% target set out in its performance requirements for the whole April 2022 to August 2022 period, and CCTV availability was also below 95% in August 2022, the most recent month of data available.

In addition, £105M has been ring fenced for the remainder of this road investment period to improve the resilience of our operational technology systems on ALR motorways. This includes repairing and replacing obsolete or old CCTV, MIDAS, variable message signs and signals.

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