South Yorkshire MP urges government to scrap “smart motorways” as “shocking” new data reveals number of vehicle breakdowns in live lanes

Rotherham’s MP Sarah Champion has urged the government to scrap Smart Motorways, as new data reveals how many vehicles have had to stop in “live” lanes.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 12:30 pm

The Department for Transport disclosed that there had been an average of 68 incidents per month in which a vehicle stopped in a live lane since the smart motorway began operation in March 2017.

In a single month, March 2018, there were 102 breakdown incidents recorded in the ten miles of road between Junctions 32 and 35A.

In the three years prior to its conversion, no serious or fatal incidents took place in which a vehicle was struck whilst in the hard shoulder of the samestretch of motorway.

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Sarah Champion MP.

From January 2018 to January 2021, the number of vehicles stopped in a live lane rose from 70 to 81 – an increase of 15 per cent.

Ms Champion called on the Government in parliament to abandonsmart motorways.

She added: “I was shocked and terrified by the sheer number of incidents in which vehicles stopped in live lanes on just this one small section of the smart motorway network.

“Each of these incidents could have resulted in more lives lost on these dangerous roads.

“The Government says it’s committed to rolling out new technology and safety improvements, but all that these achieve is to marginally reduce the huge risks they’ve created by removing the vital refuge that the hard shoulder provides.”

“Far too many people have lost their lives already. Too many families have lost loved ones. It is high time the Government listened to campaigners, motoring organisations and bereaved families and abandoned these deadly roads.”

Responding for the Government, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said: “Smart motorways have been under development since 2001 under the Blair-John Prescott Government.

“I think I’m the first Secretary of State in 12 to carry out the stocktake and review, and I won’t rest until these are as safe as possible.”