Smart Motorways

Dear Constituent,

Thank you for contacting me about smart motorways.

Following concerns about the safety of smart motorways, the Department for Transport undertook a stocktake of the smart motorway network and a review of the safety evidence.

The evidence, now published, shows that overall smart motorways are in many respects equally as safe, or even safer, than conventional motorways. Indeed, the review found that risks posed by tailgating, rapid changes of vehicle speeds, drifting and speeding are lower when compared to conventional motorways.

However, the evidence also suggested that the risk of a collision between a stationary and moving vehicle is higher on smart motorways compared to conventional motorways.

Motorists’ safety is of course paramount, and I welcome that Ministers set out a package of 18 measures to address issues that have been identified. The measures include, amongst other things, abolition of the confusing ‘dynamic hard shoulder’ smart motorways, where the hard shoulder is a live running lane other than when operating as a part-time hard shoulder.

Also included in the package was a commitment to boost the deployment of radar systems that detect stationary vehicles, so that in 36 months the technology is rolled out across the entire smart motorway network.

Moreover, the Government has committed to reducing the distance between emergency stopping places to three-quarters of a mile where possible, meaning a motorist travelling at 60mph would reach an emergency stopping place every 45 seconds. The maximum spacing between emergency stopping places will be one mile.

An additional £5 million has also been committed to further raise awareness and understanding of smart motorways, how they operate and how to use them confidently.

I believe that taken together these changes will raise the bar on smart motorway safety and improve drivers’ confidence when using them.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.