29 Apr 2021

Smart Motorways: Radar Technology Will be Mandatory

Any new smart motorways will require radar technology to help reduce the number of fatalities.

The ‘all lane running’ roads were originally installed to alleviate congestion, with the hard shoulder being turned into an active lane of traffic during busy periods.

However, this led to a number of road traffic accidents and fatalities due to stranded, broken down vehicles having nowhere to go.

There have been 39 deaths in a four-year stretch, from 2015 to 2019, on these roads with increasing calls for improved safety.

As a result, the radar technology – designed to spot broken down vehicles and allow the closing of that lane to traffic – will be mandatory on all future smart motorways.

Transport Secretary Grant Schapps said in a written statement to Parliament; "Most significantly, radar-based stopped vehicle detection technology will now be installed on all operational all lane running (ALR) motorways by September 2022, six months earlier than planned," he said.

"Highways England has also made a commitment that no ALR motorways will open without radar technology to spot stopped vehicles, enable lanes to be closed where necessary and get help to drivers quickly."

Other measures to be adopted include the upgrade of cameras to spot motorists ignoring the signs above the road, which signify if the lane is open to traffic or not, and prosecute them, as well as increasing signage around the distance to the next refuge area.

Smart motorways have been part of the road network since 2002, but all lane running versions have only been implemented since 2014.

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