New Unit To Investigate Smart Motorways

Sat 9th Jul 2022

The UK Government has appointed an independent team of investigators with a remit of focusing on the associated dangers of smart motorways and autonomous driving technology.

The newly formed Road Safety Investigation Branch (RSIB), which was launched by the Department for Transport is expected to spend some time analysing and researching the controversial smart motorways, which in recent years have seen a number of fatalities. The development of any new smart motorways was halted this year whilst a full investigation into the concerns took place.

There were 1,560 fatalities on roads last year according to Department for Transport data, while an RAC poll found that 62 per cent of drivers believe that hard shoulders should be reintroduced across the motorway network in the UK.

The RSIB won’t focus solely on smart motorways, but they will mirror similar organisations which have been set up to investigate air, maritime and rail accidents.

Roads minister Baroness Vere said: “The UK may have some of the safest roads in the world, but tragedies still happen and any injury or death on our road network is one too many.

“That’s why we’re establishing the Road Safety Investigation Branch, so we can boost safety for road users even further and also bring safety measures in line with other modes of transport and the future of travel.”

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, which has long campaigned for safer smart motorways, said: “The job of investigators will be to look for background themes and patterns that link a number of collisions and then recommend actions that could prevent them repeating.

“This is about the whole road transport system. The new branch could decide to look at anything, from the impact of pressure on commercial drivers to meet deadlines to the way we use smart motorways and all things in between.

“The key is that the branch will be independent and will be looking to learn lessons, not point the finger of blame.”