MPs raise concern over safety of smart motorways

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A group of MPs have raised concerns over the safety of smart motorways and are calling for the rollout to be paused. 


Smart motorways work by using the hard shoulder as a fourth lane, with variable speed limits to control the flow of traffic. There are three main types of smart motorway in the UK:

  • Controlled

  • Dynamic hard shoulder, where the hard shoulder is used as a lane in a busy traffic

  • All Lane Running (ALR), where the hard shoulder is permanently a fourth lane.


The ALR schemes are the most common with over 100 miles of ALR motorways currently in operation across the UK and 225 more miles planned. These are of particular concern amongst campaigners. The Campaign for Safer Roadside Rescue and Recovery (CSRRR) want to stop the rollout of the ALR schemes and for recovery workers to be able to use red flashing lights, as opposed to orange. 


MP Tracey Crouch, who sits on the group, speaking to BBC 5 Live urged the UK government to “pause and reflect on whether we’re getting this right”.


Highways England insists ALR smart motorways are safe and that they will continually look for ways to improve them. "We recognise that as well as being safe, drivers want to feel safe and we have and will continue to make some changes to the design of motorways," the agency said in a statement to the BBC.


The organisation also said it was prioritising “raising awareness of the need to comply with lane closures” and, where practical, reducing the distance between emergency refuge areas to a maximum of one mile, as well as looking to introduce systems to detect stationary vehicles. 

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