Smart Motorway Death Toll Rises

Mon 3rd May 2021

The number of deaths on smart motorways over the last five years is greater than originally published says the shadow Transport Secretary.

Smart motorways have grabbed negative headlines for the last 12 months following on from a scathing Panorama documentary which highlighted some of the dangers related to All Lane Running motorways. In the documentary the Government said that there had been 38 fatalities between 2015 and 2019, a figure which Transport Secretary Grant Shapps later corrected to 39. But that figure is a lot higher according to Shapps’ opposite number, Shadow transport secretary, Jim McMahon.

Speaking to the House of Commons, Mr McMahon said that the Labour party had analysed Highways England statistics from all roads classed as controlled motorways, dynamic hard running shoulder and ALR and their evidence revealed a figure of 63 deaths.

“After much delay the Transport Secretary finally published Highways England's review into smart motorways,” said Mr McMahon.

“The stocktake has revealed that over the last five years, 63 people have lost their lives - a significant increase on the 38 figure given just over a year ago.

“Victims' families and campaigners are crying out for common-sense, crying out for action from the Secretary of State recognising that the radar technology doesn't even capture broken-down vehicles 35% of the time.

“As the legal challenges mount, will he publish the specific data which compares deaths on the hard shoulder on existing motorways to the deaths on lanes previously on the hard shoulder and now used as a live running lane?”

In recent report Highways England maintained that smart motorways are ‘the safest roads in the country’ but Grant Shapps has instructed that no new smart motorways without a hard-shoulder can be built unless radar to detect broken down vehicles is installed.