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25 April 2024
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RAC calls on Government to take action on smart motorways

RAC urges UK Government to improve smart motorway safety by converting all-lane-running sections to dynamic ones or reinstating hard shoulders.

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Companies that use trucks and vans to conduct their businesses have long queried the safety of smart motorways, which have their hard shoulders removed. And despite the fact that the Government cancelled plans for new ones a year ago, the RAC is calling on ministers to introduce further changes to improve safety.

Financial pressure and a lack of public confidence were blamed for the about-turn last April, which saw three new schemes ditched, along with 11 that had already been sidelined.

They will now remain as ‘dynamic’ smart motorways where the hard shoulder can be opened as an extra lane during busy times.

However, the RAC has reiterated its argument that the Government should either convert existing all-lane-running (ALR) smart motorways to ‘dynamic’ ones, or permanently reintroduce a hard shoulder.

RAC head of policy, Simon Williams, said:

It’s incredible to think that a decade has gone by since the first all-lane-running stretch of smart motorway opened on the M25 in Hertfordshire and that it’s a year since the prime minister cancelled all future schemes. There is a real irony when it comes to talking about cost pressures in relation to these distinctly unpopular types of motorway. While heralded as a cost-effective way of increasing capacity on some of our busier roads, a colossal amount of public money has since gone into trying to make them safer – for instance by installing radar-based technology to detect stricken vehicles more quickly, plus the creation of additional emergency refuge areas. This cash needn’t have been spent had the Government not taken the decision to plough on with building all-lane running motorways, regardless of concerns expressed by drivers, the RAC and even the Transport Committee.

However, Williams says the question remains: will the motoring public ever be entirely comfortable driving on the 200-plus miles of motorway where the hard shoulder has been permanently removed?

The hard shoulder is by no means a safe location, but in the event of a breakdown, it is far safer than being stranded in a live lane of traffic waiting for the ‘red X closed lane’ sign to be turned on and then for other drivers to do the right thing and move.

End

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