A study conducted by the AA said that 71% of respondents felt that All Lane Running (ALR) Smart motorway were more dangerous than traditional motorways.
The study conducted by the AA into Smart Motorways used data from 15,000 drivers and found that:
- 48% said they strongly believed ALR schemes felt more dangerous
- 10% said they felt safer on smart motorways
- 16% said the distance between Emergency Refuge Areas (ERA) was suitable
From April 2020, all new schemes will have ERA spaced at every mile, but evidence from another AA poll suggests that 63% of respondents said ERA’s should be spaced out every half mile.
More than 52% of drivers think that the rollout of ALR schemes should be stopped. Several recent deaths on the M1 have contributed to the negative perception of Smart Motorways.
Edmund King, AA president, said:
“We believe the Secretary of State should now announce a review into the safety of All Lane Running Schemes.
“Unfortunately we have already seen fatalities where vehicles have been left in vulnerable positions in live lanes. Previous research has shown that if Stopped Vehicle Detection is not in place it takes an average of 17 minutes to spot a stationary vehicle in a live lane.
“Our new study shows that public trust on removing the hard shoulder has pretty much evaporated. Before any further schemes begin, we need an urgent and independent review into the safety of existing schemes.”
Highways England refuted the findings, saying that their feedback from road users show a clear majority feel confident driving on a smart motorway, and that they are safer and improve journey times. Their evidence indicates that casualty rates have fallen by more than 25%
A Highways England spokesperson said:
“Smart motorways include more features than conventional motorways to further enhance safety, and both are significantly safer for drivers than other roads
“We will, of course, continue to monitor the safety performance of smart motorways – as we do with all of our roads – and are rolling out enhancements to improve the road user experience further.
“These include reducing the distance between places to stop in an emergency on smart motorways, such as emergency areas, motorway service areas and hard shoulders on junction slip roads, to one mile apart. They are currently 1.5 miles apart – on average every 75 seconds at 60mph. We’re also making them more visible – we’ve already made more than 140 more visible by turning them orange and improving signage.”
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Government information on how to safely operate your vehicle on a Smart Motorway is available here