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Shapps to publish ‘action plan’ to boost safety on smart motorways

The hard shoulder on the roads is converted to a live running lane to reduce congestion.

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Smart motorways were developed to increase capacity and reduce congestion (Highways England/PA)

Smart motorways were developed to increase capacity and reduce congestion (Highways England/PA)

Smart motorways were developed to increase capacity and reduce congestion (Highways England/PA)

An 18-point “action plan” to boost smart motorway safety will be launched by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

He told the Commons that an evidence stocktake into the safety of the roads found “in most ways smart motorways are as safe or safer than conventional ones, but they are not in every way”.

Smart motorways are used by Highways England to increase capacity and reduce congestion by using methods such as converting the hard shoulder into a live running lane, rather than the more costly process of widening roads.

Fears have been raised that this has created a safety hazard, with some drivers hit from behind and killed after being unable to reach an emergency refuge area, which are up to 1.6 miles apart.

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said the implementation of further safety measures “should be reassuring” for drivers who are concerned about the loss of the hard shoulder.

He added: “Most of Britain’s drivers will have passed their test long before so-called smart motorways started appearing, so we clearly need a major public information initiative to inform us on their safe use, in particular about getting to a refuge if they can in the event of something going wrong.”

PA