Highways England has launched a £5 million advertising campaign to encourage motorists to pull over if they run into mechanical problems on one of Britain’s smart motorways.

The Go Left campaign features a pair of flies singing a version of the Pet Shop Boys’ famous 1993 hit Go West. The “clear, single-minded message” has been designed to ensure that people experiencing mechanical issues pull off the motorway and into one of the following: an emergency area, a hard shoulder, a motorway service area, a left-hand verge or an A-road lay-by.

It comes as smart motorways have come in for recent criticism, with a coroner in Doncaster referring Highways England to the the Crown Prosecution Service to consider whether corporate manslaughter charges are appropriate over the death of a driver on the M1 in September 2018.

Nargis Begum was killed after her car broke down near Woodall Services on the M1. She exited her car after calling for help and was hit by it after it was impacted by another vehicle.

In response to the coroner’s hearing, Highways England said: “Our deepest sympathies are with the family of Mrs Begum, and all those affected by this tragic incident. Although we do not believe Highways England has committed any offence, we will of course co-operate fully in any investigation.”

The multi-million pound Go Left safety campaign is part of an 18-point action plan set out in the evidence stocktake published by the Department for Transport in March last year.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has previously criticised smart motorways but has so far ruled out their removal, instead concentrating on improving safety and public confidence.

Smart motorways made up 488 miles of England’s 2300-mile motorway network in 2020, and a further 300 miles is planned by 2025. In 2019, there were almost 230,000 breakdowns on the Highways England network, including 207,500 on motorways.

READ MORE

Highways England could face corporate manslaughter charge for smart motorway death

Transport secretary: smart motorways are “anything but”

Smart motorways review brings 18 measures to boost safety