CCTV video analytics technology can help improve safety on smart motorways

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Using latest-generation video analytics technology can help bolster security and response times on smart motorways by ensuring that vehicles that have come to a stop on motorways without a hard shoulder are automatically detected and warnings triggers, a new Department for Transport (DfT) report reveals.

The term ‘smart motorway’ describes three types of motorway design: controlled motorways which use variable speed limits and overhead signs to manage traffic flows; all-lane running where the hard shoulder is permanently used as a running lane and which have emergency stopping areas every 0.3-1.6 miles; and dynamic hard shoulder motorways where the hard shoulder is used some of the time as a running lane. The idea is that if someone breaks down, motorway control room staff can ‘close’ the affected lane using gantry signs and thereby isolate the breakdown for further assistance.

The DfT report, published last week, outlines measures for improving the safety of motorways without a permanent hard shoulder. It includes a pledge to complete the installation of radar-based stopped vehicle detection (SVD) – which automatically triggers signs on overhead gantries and alerts control rooms of stopped vehicles enabling immediate action to be taken – on all-lane running stretches of motorway within three years.

The report also reveals that Highways England has been running a small-scale trial using video analytics to automatically detect stationary vehicles, and will be carrying out a larger trial of this technology using existing smart motorway cameras. Cameras may also be used for automatically detecting violations of and enforcing the ‘red X’ lane closure signs, while cameras themselves will be upgraded.


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