London Daily

Focus on the big picture.

Scrap all existing smart motorways, says AA

Scrap all existing smart motorways, says AA

The AA has joined campaigners in calling for all existing smart motorways to be scrapped.

It comes after the government cancelled the building of all new smart motorways over cost and safety concerns.

Smart motorways are a stretch of road where technology is used to regulate traffic flow and ease congestion.

They also use the hard shoulder as an extra lane of traffic, which critics claim has led to road deaths.

Some 14 planned schemes, including 11 already on pause and three set for construction, will be scrapped due to finances and low public confidence.

Edmund King, president of the AA, told the BBC he welcome the government's move but that it needed to go further and restore a permanent hard shoulder to 375 miles of existing smart motorways.

"Basically drivers don't trust them, the technology is not fool proof, and 37% of breakdowns on smart motorways happen in live lanes. And basically those drivers are sitting ducks."

The RAC meanwhile said existing smart motorways - which make up about 10% of England's motorway network - now had to be made "as safe as possible".

"The possibility of converting all lane running stretches to the 'dynamic hard shoulder' configuration, where the hard shoulder is open and closed depending on the levels of traffic, could be one option the government considers," said RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams.

Under the government's plan, existing smart motorways will remain and undergo a previously announced safety refit to create 150 more emergency stopping places and improved technology.

Conservative Party Chairman Greg Hands told the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg programme: "We will not approve any new smart motorways, clearly as a result of public concern and safety concern. And we're going to keep a close eye on the situation with the existing smart motorways."

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak - who pledged to ban smart motorways during his leadership campaign - said "all drivers deserve to have confidence in the roads they use to get around the country".

The Department for Transport said the new schemes would have cost more than £1bn, and cancelling them would allow time to track public trust in smart motorways over a longer period.


What is a smart motorway?


There are three main types:

*  controlled, which have a permanent hard shoulder, but use technology such as variable speed limits to adjust traffic flows

*  dynamic, where the hard shoulder can be opened up at peak times and used as an extra lane; when this happens, the speed limit is reduced to 60mph

*  all-lane running, where the hard shoulder has been permanently removed to provide an extra lane; emergency refuge areas are provided at regular intervals for cars that get into trouble

All three models use overhead gantries to direct drivers. Variable speed limits are introduced to control traffic flow when there is congestion, or if there is a hazard ahead. These limits are controlled by speed cameras.

Seven of the 14 projects that have been cancelled were going to involve converting stretches of motorway into "all-lane running" roads where the hard shoulder is permanently removed.

They will now remain as "dynamic" smart motorways where the hard shoulder can be opened as an extra lane during busy times.

The construction of two stretches of smart motorway from junctions six to eight on the M56, and from 21a to 26 on the M6, will continue as they are already more than three quarters complete.


Smart motorways were developed to create more capacity and cut congestion on roads, without spending money and causing disruption building news ones.

However, they have been criticised by MPs and road safety bodies, including the AA and RAC.

Claire Mercer, whose husband died on a smart motorway in South Yorkshire in 2019, welcomed the move but pledged to continue campaigning for the hard shoulder to return on every road.

Mrs Mercer said: "I'm particularly happy that it's been confirmed that the routes that are in planning, in progress, have also been cancelled. I didn't think they'd do that.

"So it's good news, but obviously it's the existing ones that are killing us. And I'm not settling for more emergency refuge areas."

A spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats said the scrapping of further smart motorways was "long overdue".

Louise Haigh MP, Labour's transport secretary, said: "We know smart motorways, coupled with inadequate safety systems, are not fit for purpose and are putting lives at risk", adding that ministers should "reinstate hard shoulders on existing smart motorways".

These motorway sections will no longer become new all-lane-running smart motorways:

*  M3 junction 9-14
*  M40/M42 interchange
*  M62 junction 20-25
*  M25 junction 10-16

The following stretches were due to be converted to all-lane-running, but will remain dynamic smart motorways:

*  M1 junction 10-13
*  M4-M5 interchange (M4 junction 19-20 and M5 junction 15-17)
*  M6 junction 4-5
*  M6 junction 5-8
*  M6 junction 8-10a
*  M42 junction 3a-7
*  M62 junction 25-30

Schemes for the following motorways were in the pipeline, but have been cancelled:

*  M1 North Leicestershire
*  M1 junctions 35A-39 Sheffield to Wakefield
*  M6 junctions 19- 21A Knutsford to Croft

Meera Naran, whose eight-year-old son was killed on a smart motorway in 2018 when the stationary car he was in was hit by a lorry, said the government's announcement was a "huge achievement" but she would continue campaigning.

She said smart motorways and regular motorways "carry very different benefits and risks" and suggested merging both models.

Dev died when his grandfather had to stop their car on the M6 at a time when the hard shoulder was being used for moving traffic


Speaking on BBC One's Breakfast programme, Ms Naran said she would campaign for what she called "controlled motorways" which use the technology of smart motorways with the benefits of a hard shoulder.

In 2020, a BBC Panorama investigation found 38 people had died in the previous five years on smart motorways.

Newsletter

Related Articles

London Daily
0:00
0:00
Close
Netanyahu Denounces World Court Ruling on Israeli Occupation
Adidas Drops Bella Hadid Over Controversy
Global Outage Caused by CrowdStrike Update Impacts Millions
Massive Flight Cancellations Across the U.S. Due to Microsoft Outage
Global Windows Outage Causes Chaos Across Banks, Airlines, and More
Russia Accuses Ukraine of Using Chemical Weapons
UK's Flawed COVID-19 Planning Exposed by Inquiry
Ursula von der Leyen Wins Second Term as European Commission President
Police Officer Injured in Attack in Central Paris
Hulk Hogan absolutely tore it up at the RNC.
Paris is being "cleansed" of migrants and homeless people ahead of the Olympics.
Lamine Yamal arriving at his school after winning the Euros
Campaigners Urge UK Government to Block Shein's London IPO
UK Labour Government's Legislative Agenda
UK Labour Government to Regulate Powerful AI Models
Record Heat Temperatures in Ukraine Amid Power Crisis
UK Government Plans to Remove 92 Hereditary Peers from House of Lords
King Charles III Delivers Labour Government's First King's Speech
Officials Remove 'Disastrous' Label from Liz Truss's Mini-Budget
Keir Starmer Outlines Ambitious Plans for Government
Japan to Allocate $3.3 Billion to Ukraine Using Frozen Russian Assets
EU Parliament Condemns Hungarian PM's Russia Visit
FBI Struggles to Find Motive Behind Trump Shooting Incident
Kremlin Criticizes EU Rejection of Orban’s Ukraine Peace Proposal
Google and Microsoft Now Consume More Power Than Several Large Countries
Secret Service Criticized for Lack of Sniper Protection During Trump Shooting
US Senator Robert Menendez Found Guilty of Corruption
Deep Concerns about Political Violence as US Approaches Election Day
Trump Media Shares Surge Following Re-Election Bid Boost
The gunman who attempted to assassinate Donald Trump Saturday is 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks
Banksy's Influence on Port Talbot's Street Art Scene
Bodies of Two Men Found in Suitcases on Bristol Bridge, 24-Year-Old Arrested
Kate Middleton to Attend Wimbledon Men's Final Amid Cancer Recovery
Russia's Electronic Warfare Neutralizes Western Weapons in Ukraine
Trump Challenges Biden to Debate and Golf Match
Macron Accuses Israeli Minister of Election Interference
US Senator Highlights Weaknesses in Western Military Industry During Ukraine Conflict
George Clooney Urges Biden to Withdraw from Presidential Race
Political Shift in the UK: A Detailed Analysis of Labour's Victory and Future Prospects
Viktor Orbán's Peace Mission: A Diplomatic Controversy in the EU
India Advocates Peace and Prosperity: PM Modi's Speech in Austria
New UK PM Keir Starmer Reaffirms Strong Support for Ukraine at NATO Summit
Spain PM Pedro Sanchez Denounces Double Standards on Gaza at NATO Summit
UK Police Arrest Suspect in Crossbow Attack After Three Women Killed
Sunita Williams Safe on ISS, to Address Earth on July 10
Biden Affirms Commitment To Presidential Race
France Faces Political Turmoil and Airport Strikes Ahead of Paris Olympics 2024
Putin Hosts PM Modi for a Private Meeting
TSMC: The Taiwanese Chip Giant Valued Over $1 Trillion
Boeing Pleads Guilty Over 737 MAX Crashes
×