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UK Gov puts rollout of smart motorways on hold amid safety concerns

UK Gov puts rollout of smart motorways on hold amid safety concerns

UK’s Department for Transport has reportedly announced that the rollout of new all-lane-running smart motorways, using hard shoulder as a permanent live traffic lane, has been halted over safety concerns until the government collects five years’ worth of safety data regarding such schemes, which were introduced before 2020.

The decision comes after the recommendation by the Transport Select Committee of the House of Commons, which stated that there was not enough data supporting the safety and economic viability of the project to justify its continuation.

In a November report, the committee had described the government’s decision of making all future smart motorways all-lane-running, taken in March of 2020, as premature.

The suspension also comes amid growing concerns regarding fatal crashes that involved broken-down vehicles being hit from behind, and a long campaign undertaken by the relatives of those who were killed on such motorways.

In a protest last year, demonstrators were seen carrying thirty-eight cardboard coffins to the London headquarters of the Department for Transport, representing those who were killed on a smart motorway between the year 2014 and 2019.

Smart motorways were introduced in England in 2014 and were a less-expensive alternative for increasing capacity without widening carriageways. As of now, England has 375 miles of smart motorways, of which 235 miles do not have a hard shoulder.

The government said that for existing as well as under construction motorways, additional emergency refuge areas will be built, along with the installation of technology that can spot stopped vehicles where possible.

Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, stated that by halting the government’s yet-to-start construction schemes and making multi-million-pound improvements to existing schemes, drivers will gain confidence and also provide the informative data needed for further steps.

An investment of £39 million ($53 million) will be made for the installation of over 150 extra emergency areas by 2025, making a 50% increase in places to stop.

The government has also agreed to the recommendation that emergency refuge areas should be less than a three-fourth mile apart, wherever possible.

The decision was welcomed by the motoring organization AA that has campaigned against smart motorways, for over a decade.

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Sunil Jha

Sunil Jha has been a part of the content industry for close to two years. Having previously worked as a voice over artist and sportswriter, he now focuses on writing articles for, across a slew of topics, ranging from technology to trade and finance. With a business-oriented educational background, Sunil brings forth the expertise of deep-dive research and a strategic approach in his write ups.