Transport Secretary Grant Schapps has announced an action plan to raise the bar on smart motorway safety.

The announcement comes in the wake of concerns being made by the public and motoring organisations including the AA and RAC (read our previous report Are Smart Motorways Safe

Schapps written statement stated: “Following concerns about smart motorway safety, I asked my department to review the evidence and, if needed, bring forward recommendations. Today (12 March 2020) I am publishing that work and taking the action necessary to ensure our roads are as safe as they can be.”

Some of the key measure include:

  • abolishing the confusing “dynamic hard shoulder” smart motorways, where the hard shoulder operates only part-time and is a live running lane the rest of the time
  • substantially speeding up the deployment of “stopped vehicle detection” technology across the entire “all lane running” smart motorway network, so stopped vehicles can be detected and the lanes closed more quickly. 
  • faster attendance by more Highways England traffic officer patrols on smart motorways where the existing spacing between places to stop in an emergency is more than one mile, with the aim of reducing the attendance time from an average of 17 minutes to 10 minutes
  • reducing the distance between places to stop in an emergency to three quarters of a mile where feasible so that on future schemes motorists should typically reach one every 45 seconds at 60mph. The maximum spacing will be 1 mile
  • installing 10 additional emergency areas on the existing M25 smart motorways on the section of smart motorway with a higher rate of live lane stops and where places to stop in an emergency are furthest apart
  • considering a national programme to install more emergency areas where places to stop in an emergency are more than one mile apart

Edmund King, AA president, said: “For the last decade we have been campaigning to improve the design and safety of ‘smart’ motorways. The measures announced by the Transport Secretary today are a victory for common sense and safety."

The full report can be accessed here 

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