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Most Drivers Want Smart Motorways To Be Discontinued

A new report, published by the RAC, suggests that a majority of drivers want to see smart motorways permanently discontinued…

Motorists Want Smart Motorways Scrapped 

New research, conducted by the RAC, has discovered that six out of ten drivers want all-lane-running smart motorways permanently discontinued. A significant 62% of surveyed drivers said they wanted to see hard shoulders brought back. Nevertheless, a majority of drivers want to retain the new safety features found on smart motorway formats.

Just 24% of the surveyed drivers said that the current smart motorway format should be retained. Conversely, 63% felt that safety measures meant to replace the hard shoulder weren’t fit for purpose. Some of these include the likes of refuge areas every 1.6 miles, closed-line signs and variable speed limits. A paltry 15% of respondents felt that these were adequate in terms of safety.

Unfortunately for National Highways (until recently known as Highways England), drivers have little faith in the organisation. Only 30% of drivers believe the organisation can be trusted to spot a stationary vehicle in good time. That’s down from 53% in 2019. Significantly, nearly a quarter of drivers (24%) regard smart motorways as one of their primary motoring-related worries. Less than half of drivers (43%) feel safe using them, too.

Safety Concerns 

Smart motorways have been a source of controversy for a number of years now. Back in 2016, MPs from a spectrum of parties called for construction to be suspended. In addition, the government paused plans concerning all-lane-running formats. It’s also launched an inquiry into their safety, the results of which are due later this year.

Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC, has stressed the need for improved safety measures. He said, “we’ve always had safety concerns about all-lane-running motorways and have raised these by giving evidence to two separate Transport Committee inquiries. While the Government published its 18-point action plan in 2020, the RAC has continued to push for new safety features to be introduced as quickly as possible”.

Lyes continued, “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”.

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