Smart motorways in South Yorkshire could be scrapped

Smart motorways in South Yorkshire could be scrapped with the controversial traffic control measure believed to be under an urgent review.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 6:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 1:33 pm

New figures, courtesy of a freedom of information request by the BBC Panorama programme, reveal Britain’s network of smart motorways – where drivers can use the hard shoulder – have resulted in 20 times more near-misses just on London’s M25 ring road.

The death toll on stretches of smart or managed motorways has reached 38 in the last five years. Five people have died in 10 months on a 16 mile-stretch of Smart Motorway on the M1 in South Yorkshire.

Smart motorways have been criticised because they do not have a hard shoulder and drivers who break down can be trapped in the speeding traffic.

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Rotherham MP Sarah Champion said motorway rescues were like "walking into a death trap" and breakdown companies including the RAC and AA - which confirmed it cannot deal with stranded vehicles in "live" lanes - had previously warned all-lane traffic "presents an unacceptable risk".

Around 200 miles of motorway in Britain have been converted to “smart running” to ease congestion.

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, told the BBC: “We absolutely have to have these as safe or safer as regular motorways or we shouldn’t have them at all.”

It is understood Shapps has asked Department for Transport officials to review evidence on the safety of smart motorways, with recommendations expected to follow soon.