Lifestyle

Major UK motorway announcement due to safety fears after 38 killed in 5 years


The government has made a major UK motorway announcement regarding the installation of brand new all-lane-running smart motorways.

The all-lane smart motorways, designed not to need a hard shoulder, were first introduced in 2014, and a further roll out had been planned.

However, there have been growing voices of concern around the safety of the all-lane smart motorways, with MPs stating in November that there simply wasn’t enough safety and economic data to justify them.

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Critics say that whilst refuge areas 2.5km apart are meant to replace the hard shoulder on these all-lane motorways, often broken down cars are left stranded in live lanes, with the AA saying drivers could be left as “sitting ducks”.

Now the planned roll-out of the all-lane smart motorways has been delayed for five years so these concerns can be properly investigated.



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It is understood that rather than reinstating the hard shoulder on the 63 miles of existing all-lane motorways, refuge areas will be made more frequent at one every kilometre.

A further 100 miles of all-lane motorway currently in construction is also set to be completed and introduced, whilst another 57 miles is now put on hold.

All-lane is just one variation of smart motorway, a blanket term for any motorway that uses technology to control traffic via overhead gantries.

Controlled smart motorways have a permanent hard shoulder, whilst dynamic smart motorways have a hard shoulder that can be opened up into a live lane to reduce congestion.



Claire Mercer’s husband Jason was killed in 2019 on a stretch of smart motorway near Sheffield

Campaigners against smart motorways say there should always be a hard shoulder on UK motorways.

Claire Mercer, who lost her husband Jason in a crash on a smart motorway in 2019, told the BBC: “The only acceptable thing would be for all hard shoulders to be returned permanently, 24/7, on all motorways.”

She vowed that if this doesn’t happen: “We’ll carry on fighting, and pushing the legal challenge.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “While our initial data shows that smart motorways are among the safest roads in the UK, it’s crucial that we go further to ensure people feel safer using them.”

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