Smart Motorway Expansions Continue

Mon 9th Nov 2020

The use of motorways which extend the use of a hard shoulder during rush hour traffic is set to extend, with 130 more miles planned, despite safety concerns.

A report in The Times newspaper has revealed that there are nine smart motorway projects planned, despite damning reports earlier in 2020 which branded the road projects as ‘death traps’ and even the transport secretary Grant Shapps calling into question their use.

Smart Motorways were the subject of a Panorama documentary at the start of 2020, after it was revealed that there had been 44 deaths related to the controversial road schemes. The smart motorways came under increasing scrutiny when the transport secretary published an 18-point plan with the aim of making motorways safer, but that plan may have been ignored, with an estimated 138 miles of the motorway network set to be converted to smart motorway.

Sections of the M1 and M6 will have additional smart motorway, and a 32-mile section of the M3 will also be converted.

The use of hard shoulders has been a major area of concern, with Grant Shapps promising to outlaw the ‘confusing dynamic hard shoulder’, however the solution seems to be to make all hard shoulder areas a live running lane, with all set to be converted by 2025.

With live running lanes having emergency refuge areas, which many vehicles fail to reach, the AA’s president Edmund King has criticised the move.

“The big scandal is that safety measures were then engineered out to save money,” King told The Times. “They moved the goalposts without consultation — the emergency refuge areas went from every quarter of a mile to every 1½ miles, even though they knew this would make them more dangerous.”