Rotherham MP calls for smart motorways to be scrapped after publication of new safety data

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A Rotherham MP has called for Smart Motorways to be scrapped, following the publication of new safety data.

The National Highways smart motorways stock take second year progress report, published this month, reported that stopped vehicle collisions remain a “very small proportion of all collisions”.

The report states: “While stopped vehicle collisions remain a very small proportion of all collisions (the proportion ranges from 2.36 per cent for controlled motorways to 2.99 per cent for conventional motorways to 5.26 per cent for all lane running motorways), stopped vehicle collision and casualty rates are lowest for conventional and controlled motorways.”

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No hard shoulder for South Yorkshire’s smart motorway despite increase in fatal ...
Sarah ChampionSarah Champion
Sarah Champion

Sarah Champion, Member of Parliament for Rotherham, said: “This new data is shocking, but sadly, far from surprising.

“These figures confirm what was already obvious to anyone who has driven on an All Lane Running motorway: these roads are death traps.

“They should never have made it off the drawing board, still less been allowed to be widely rolled out without sufficient safety data.

“I have been calling for years for the hard shoulder to be restored.

“Each time, I have been told that ALR is safe.

“These figures reveal the shocking truth.

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“The Government and National Highways are gambling the lives of motorists in a bid to increase capacity on the cheap.

“I hope that they will now, finally, listen to me and commit torestoring the hard shoulder across the motorway network.’

If safety is to be the paramount concern, this is the only viable course to take.”

The report adds that between 2016 and 2020, 243,701 live lane breakdown incidents were reported on the strategic roads network (SRN).

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“Slightly more than half of these took place on conventional motorways,whereas approximately a quarter took place on motorways without a permanent hard shoulder,” adds the report.

“Over the coming years we will continue our work to ensure all existing motorways without a permanent hard shoulder are made as safe as they can possibly be.

“We will do this through the existing safety features already installed and planned.”

Nick Harris, chief executive of National Highways, said: “The latest data shows that, overall, in terms of serious or fatal casualties, smart motorways are our safest roads.

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“We are continuing our work to make them our safest roads in every way.”

The report pledges that by September 2022, stopped vehicle detection technology will be in place on “every existing all lane running smart motorway”, and completed the upgrade of all enforcement cameras to enable the detection of Red X violations.

“A very small proportion of total journeys on any road result in live lane breakdowns, and we understand this is the main concern drivers have about smart motorways,” adds the report.

“While most of these breakdowns do not lead to serious or fatal casualties, I recognise it can affect how people feel. So we are taking steps to address this.

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“We are also delivering a £390 million programme to build more places to stop in an emergency on ALRs in operation and construction.

“This means drivers, over the duration of the second Road Investment Strategy (by 2025), will see over 150 additional emergency areas.”