Near-misses increase on smart motorways

Near-misses on one of Britain’s stretches of smart motorway have increased 20-fold since the hard shoulder was taken away, according to new figures.

An investigation by BBC Panorama found that on one of two converted sections of the M25, there were 1,485 near misses since the scheme was introduced.

In the five years before it was a smart motorway, there were only 72.

The former government minister who approved the roll-out told BBC’s Panorama he was misled about the risks.

Sir Mike Penning said: “They are endangering people’s lives. There are people that are being killed and seriously injured on these roads, and it should never have happened.”

The BBC said it believes the government plans to overhaul the network, fitting radar across the smart motorway system in the next three years.

The car detection system – which is currently only fitted on two sections of the M25 – can spot stranded vehicles as soon as drivers break down. Nationally, motorists currently have to wait an average of 17 minutes to be spotted, and a further 17 minutes before they are rescued.

It also said that dynamic hard shoulders – which sometimes act as hard shoulder but can be opened as traffic lanes – will be scrapped.

The Department for Transport said a review into smart motorways announced in October was still ongoing.

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