Could This Suggestion Save Smart Motorways?

Thu 20th Jan 2022

The government’s pause on the implementation of smart motorways has been welcomed by many road safety campaigners, but a proposal by one of the UK’s leading motoring organisations may have come up with a compromise.

The smart motorway system utilises all lanes of the road, with electronic signage guiding drivers as to whether the inside lane is operating as ‘live’ or being used as a hard shoulder. Whilst ‘live’ motorists are advised to use the refuge spots which are located at various intervals, however the problem arrives when motorists fail to reach them, and are left as ‘sitting ducks’ while the National Highways team spot the danger and close the lane.

The AA has suggested that failure to reach a refuge spot is the main issue and leads to many of the incidents, accidents and in the worst cases, fatalities. Some 38 per cent of breakdowns are taking place in live lanes on smart motorways.

“The AA has been a major critic of ‘smart’ motorways in our campaign for over a decade to improve their safety,” said AA president Edmund King. “At last, we have a Transport Secretary who has made progress and taken a positive and pragmatic approach. He has today accepted many of the measures we have been calling for and our important demand that emergency refuge areas should be no more than three-quarters of a mile apart.

“We would like further investigation, which the Transport Secretary has agreed to, of our proposal for Dynamic Hard Shoulder schemes to revert to hard-shoulder running between 7pm-7am to avoid confusion and to offer a refuge to counter live lane collisions that happen at night.”