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Tyres  /  Tyre NewsMotoring  / Smart Motorways Delayed To Gather Safety Data

Smart Motorways Delayed To Gather Safety Data

Smart Motorways Delayed To Gather Safety Data

Last week it was announced that the smart motorway rollout across the UK has been delayed until 5 years of safety data is available. This follows a government report which found the existing technology used was a cause for concern.

The recent Transport Committee report into smart motorways revealed several flaws in current technology. The report also highlighted a lack of emergency refuge areas and driver confusion over lane closure warnings.

Following this, the rollout at 34 current sites has been delayed, with no indication of when the other planned sites across the UK's motorway network will commence.

Upgrading Current Sections

Stretches of smart motorways which have already been constructed are set to receive upgrades. This includes the installation of equipment featuring best-in-class technology.

On stretches of smart motorway with no hard shoulder - which can cause issues when car tyres fail and there is nowhere to safely stop - over 150 Emergency Areas will be added thanks to a £390 million investment. Increasing the number of safe spaces a driver can stop.

A Question of Safety

Transport officials have previously said that smart motorways were designed to improve safety and reduce congestion.

By allowing the hard shoulder to be used by normal traffic, when there is no need for an emergency refuge area, the aim is to increase the number of usable lanes and ease traffic build-up.

However, Government figures show that 38 deaths on smart motorways were recorded between 2014 and 2019. [1]

In a recent social media survey carried out by Blackcircles.com, we found that 57% of respondents would not feel safe on a smart motorway [3], and 76% do not think that smart motorways are the way forward. [4]

Since their inception, concerns have persisted that motorists would not see or pay attention to the red 'X' signs, when lanes were closed due to accidents or breakdowns. Meaning an increased chance of collision.

Similarly, smart motorways have come under heavy criticism from road safety campaigners. With smart motorways branded as an attempt to save money by squeezing more cars onto already overcrowded roads.

Of those polled by Blackcircles.com, 82% of people did not believe that a 5-lane motorway leads to more deaths on the road. [5]

What The Government Said

When talking about the recent decision to delay, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said,

"while initial data shows smart motorways are among the safest UK roads, it's crucial that we go further to ensure people feel safer using them.

"Pausing schemes yet to start construction and making multi million pound improvements to existing schemes will give drivers confidence and provide the data we need to inform our next steps.

"I want to thank safety campaigners, including those who have lost loved ones, for rightly striving for higher standards on our roads." [2]


[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51236375

[2] https://www.brake.org.uk/how-we-help/raising-awareness/our-current-projects/news-and-blogs/smart-motorway-rollout-to-be-paused-as-government-responds-to-transport-committee-report

[3] 57% of 63 respondents answered ‘No’ to the question ‘Would you feel safe on a smart motorway?’ Source: social media poll, Instagram.

[4] 76% of 63 respondents answered ‘No’ to the question ‘Do you think smart motorways are the way forward?’ Source: social media poll, Instagram.

[5] 82% of 62 respondents answered ‘No’ to the question ‘Do you believe having a 5-lane motorway leads to more deaths?’ Source: social media poll, Instagram.

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