Smart motorway development paused for safety review12 January 2022

The Department for Transport has announced that the roll-out of new all-lane smart motorways is to be put on hold.

This move sees new schemes paused until there is five years of safety data on current projects (those launched before 2020). It was announced alongside an additional £900m in safety measures for existing all-lane running motorways (ALR). Despite the pause, projects currently in construction will be finished.

An investment of £390 million in 150 additional emergency areas for drivers will also be put in place, creating a 50% increase in places to stop by 2025.

Commenting, RHA executive director, policy and public affairs, Rod McKenzie, said: “The RHA supports smart motorways as they reduce congestion and pollution by keeping traffic moving. But the advantages of all-lane running must never outweigh safety. It’s vital that safety comes first so this pause is welcome, as is additional funding for upgrading safety measures on existing all-lane running motorways. It is also crucial that these safety measures include better education about the use of smart motorways for all road users.”

Still, the government stated that smart motorways are comparatively the safest roads in the country in terms of fatality rates. Per mile travelled, fatal casualty rates are a third higher on conventional motorways (0.16 per hundred million vehicle miles, hmvm) than on ALR motorways (0.12 per hmvm). Per mile travelled, fatal casualty rates on strategic road network A-roads (0.44 per hmvm) are more than three and a half times the rate on ALR motorways.

Transport Engineer

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