The UK Transport Secretary Grant confirmed rolling out smart motorways has been suspended, due to serious safety concerns. Smart motorways remove the hard shoulder in times of busy traffic to allow ALR, all lanes running. A number of MPs have called for smart motorways to be scrapped, because of a number of motoring incidents and driver deaths.
MP for Rotherham Sarah Champion said, “The safety of motorists must always be paramount… it is totally unacceptable to risk lives in the name of cost savings”. Jason Mercer was involved in a tragic accident, he died after being hit by a lorry following a minor crash on the M1.
Smart motorways pose further issues for breakdown companies. Depending on whether a lane is open or closed, this can prevent a motorway rescue vehicle being able to reach any broken down vehicle. It appears that motorists can find themselves trapped in these lanes.
Areas of smart motorway in construction have been put on hold. Critics slammed the system for not spotting broken down vehicles, not having enough laybys available and causing fatal accidents. Incidents have previously occurred when a vehicle has broken down. In these cases, the additional lane has been opened to allow traffic to pass. Essentially removing the hard shoulder and with it any protection for broken down vehicles. The AA confirmed that they will not provide roadside assistance on smart motorways due to these serious safety concerns. This adds to the many reasons why a change needs to happen.
The entire smart motorway system could be removed. Unless it can be proven that the safety issues have been addressed and resolved. Four areas of smart motorways were due to open across the M6, M23 and M62 throughout 2020. This is on hold whilst a decision is made.
We would like to see a change to smart motorways across all existing roads. Ensuring maximum safety of drivers and passengers.