More than 3,500 smart motorway drivers have been given help to get back on the move after breaking down in Greater Manchester.
Figures released by Highways England show that 3,690 vehicles have broken down on the 17-mile stretch of motorway between junction 8 of the M60 near Sale and junction 20 of the M62 near Rochdale since the project began in July last year, including 297 HGVs.
A free recovery service is being provided along the route while work takes place on a £208 million scheme to cut congestion and improve journey times. A total of 17 recovery vehicles are being used 24 hours a day to help drivers continue their journeys.
A temporary CCTV control room has also been set up at junction 19 of the M62 near Heywood where images from 130 cameras are being monitored so that traffic officers can respond quickly to incidents and keep the motorway moving.
Half of the breakdowns in the last 10 months were caused by mechanical or electrical faults (1,875), a fifth by punctures (685), and just over one in ten were as a result of accidents on the motorway (430).
The recovery teams also dealt with 281 incidents where drivers had run out of fuel, 22 where they had filled up with the wrong fuel, 18 abandoned vehicles and nine fires.
Paul Hampson, project manager at Highways England, said: “Tens of thousands of vehicles travel on the section of motorway between Sale and Rochdale every day so it’s vital we keep it moving while the work to upgrade it takes place.
“We’ve set up a temporary CCTV control room to monitor the motorway around the clock so that we can help people who break down as quickly as possible and keep the motorway moving.
“When the smart motorway project is complete, we’ll be able to use overhead electronic message signs to warn drivers about breakdowns and close lanes if necessary. We’ll also be creating refuge areas on the section of the M62 without a hard shoulder.”
When the project is finished in autumn 2017, around 200 new electronic signs on the smart motorway route will warn drivers of changes in the mandatory speed limit, lane closures and incidents ahead. The hard shoulder will also be permanently converted to an extra lane between junctions 18 and 20 of the M62.
Around 180,000 vehicles use this stretch of the M60 and M62 every day, making it one of the busiest motorways in the country.