MPs have launched an inquiry to look at the safety of smart motorways.
The Transport Committee will also look into public confidence into their use and the impact on congestion.
This comes after a coroner said smart motorways created an “ongoing risk” of death after two men were killed after their car broke down on a motorway where the hard shoulder was in use as a traffic lane.
In 2019, 14 people reportedly died on smart motorways. In 2020, the Department for Transport published an evidence review which concluded that “in most ways, smart motorways are as safe as, or safer than, conventional motorways”, and made pledges to improve their safety.
The committee will look at whether the government needs a ‘rethink’ on smart motorways, whether ‘enhanced’ safety measures should be implemented or whether an ‘awareness campaign’ is needed for the public to be better informed.
The transport select committee wants to hear the public’s views. Click here to find out more.
3 thoughts on “Government inquiry into smart motorway safety”
As a Driving Instructor I do feel that Smart Motorways are a good innovation. However I do think clearer signs are required when there are temporary roadworks where a further speed restriction is in force. The return to the normal speed limit on the Smart Motorway is often difficult to see bearing in mind there are so many signs to follow. Also I believe fines should be implemented to the Road Maintenance companies who leave the temporary signs in place when the roadworks have been finished.
The concept of smart motorways is fine. Unfortunately, the reality is that a minority of drivers aren’t ‘smart’ and that’s all it needs. When we weigh up the advantages of opening up an extra lane with the likelihood of a serious accident, it seems clear that there are only two options:
1) We devise some way to ensure that those lacking in smartness cannot cause an accident or:
2) We do away with smart motorways.
Whilst I admit that I lack the smartness to solve (1) above, I’m optimistic that somebody can. If this is not the case, we should adopt option (2).
The aspect of smart motorways that has just the variable speed limits will no doubt be safer but to have no hard shoulder can never, never be safer than having a refuge for the full length of the motorway not just refuge areas up to one and a half miles apart. Even if the alarm system was improved there will always be a short time when there is a stationary vehicle in a live running lane before the approaching traffic can be made aware. I will leave the motorway where it becomes an all lanes running road and take to the A roads for my own safety. It petrifies me that I may be a sitting duck with no safe stopping area if I break down, What will that do for congestion if all other driver are of the same viewpoint.