Smart motorways: Sign wasn’t used ‘because it looked like a penis’

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Authorities argued that the sign warning motorists of the lane closures could not be used because it looked like a penis (Photo: PA)

A former employee claims that employees were not allowed to use the smart highway signal because it resembled a penis.

Drivers were informed that the hanging sign requesting drivers to close the fast and slow lanes of the highway resembled male genitalia and that they would not have been able to activate it.

Christopher Challis, who worked in a CCTV centre on the M25, described a range of problems facing operators of cameras and signs on the controversial motorways.

He said the coverage of CCTV cameras used to identify criminals was terrible and that the cameras often broke down or were obscured by condensation, the Daily Mail reported.

The newspaper has seen a copy of the former employee’s statement, which was sent to MPs as part of a road safety investigation.

Officers monitored the road, which has no emergency lane, for breakdowns and were able to close lanes if necessary to protect drivers.

But they were not allowed to close the inside and outside lanes at the same time because of the risk of a phallic image appearing on the hanging sign, Mr…. Challis.

His statement reads as follows: There was also a case where we were not allowed to use certain signals to block certain lanes of traffic because the signals would have looked like a penis and therefore the parameters would not have allowed us to perform certain blocking. At first we all thought it was some kind of late April Fool’s Day.

The inner and outer lane closures have made the signs look like male genitalia, it is feared (Photo: PA)

Smart highways don’t have emergency lanes, but staff can block lanes if someone breaks down (Photo: PA).

Speaking to the Mail, Mr Challis added: Someone in their wisdom, higher up in the hierarchy of Highways England, suggested that it looked like a penis because the two red Xs resembled balls. This is what we were told: You can test it, but you can’t implement it. When you tried to install it, it said it was invalid.

This problem prevented drivers from warning other road users of breakdowns in lanes 1 and 4, which could have put people in danger.

Sir, I want to thank you for your support. Challis also argues that the radar technology installed, which was supposed to detect malfunctions within seconds, did not always work and that the SOS phones installed at the car parks often failed.

Highways England says smart motorways are among the safest in the country, but MPs launched an inquiry in February after coroners raised concerns. They are expected to report later this year.

Claire Mercer, whose husband Jason died on a smart motorway, has campaigned for their abolition (Photo: PA)

Jason Mercer, 44, and Alexander Murgheanu, 22, were killed after lorry driver Prejemyslav Shuba collided with their stationary vehicles on the M1 in June 2019.

The inquest found that the deaths could have been avoided if the motorway had been fitted with an emergency lane, and coroner David Urpet said that smart motorways pose an ongoing risk of future deaths.

Nick Harris, deputy chief executive of Highways England, said: Our Year One Smart Highway Inventory Report shows that smart highways are the safest roads in the country in terms of traffic fatalities. And we are committed to a number of measures to further improve safety, including ensuring that every new full-lane highway is equipped with stopping vehicle detection technology.

We will continue to implement the findings of the first year and 2020 reports and work with drivers to make our increasingly busy highways even safer for all who use them.

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