Drivers Call for Smart Motorways to be Scrapped

Drivers Call for Smart Motorways to be Scrapped


62% of drivers think all-lane-running smart motorway schemes should be scrapped.

RAC research suggests that the majority of drivers would prefer the return of hard shoulders. They also want to retain the technology that manages traffic flows and detects breakdowns.

Out of the 2,600 drivers surveyed by the RAC, 26% stick to the Government’s current plan for four permanent running lanes and no hard shoulder. This plan also includes extra technology and cameras to detect vehicles that have broken down and to catch motorists who put others at risk.

Because of this new system, National Highways has implemented a new set of protocols to reduce risk.

These include:

  • Variable speed limits
  • Closed-lane signs
  • SOS emergency refuge areas every 1.6 miles
  • Technology to detect slowing or standstill vehicles

Most drivers (63%) do not believe the measures being implemented by National Highways under the Government’s plan should mean the loss of the hard shoulder regardless. 15% said they thought the measures were adequate.

The research also shows a sharp increase in safety concerns for drivers about smart motorways. 24% of drivers stated that smart motorways as one of their top concerns, an increase of 8% since 2019. 84% believing that safety is compromised by the permanent removal of the hard shoulder.

57% of drivers said they feel unsafe on some level driving on a smart motorway:

  • 3% say they feel a little unsafe
  • 30% say they don’t feel very safe
  • 24% say they feel ‘very unsafe’

The main issue for drivers is that they lack confidence in National Highways ability to respond to live-lane breakdowns or incidents.




RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said:

“Our research reveals the enormous strength of feeling among drivers of all ages about the safety of all-lane-running smart motorways. Although much of the plan is on track and the installation of crucial stopped vehicle detection technology is now due to be completed ahead of schedule, it seems the only thing that will truly satisfy most drivers is the reinstatement of the hard shoulder.”

The RAC has also stated that they think the best way around this issue is to reach a compromise between the two policies. Keeping the current hard shoulders in place, but opening them up as an extra lane during peak times. This should see the easing of traffic flow during busier times while also providing somewhere safe away from living traffic for those who have broken down at quieter times.


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Drivers Call for Smart Motorways to be Scrapped