28 Jan 2021

Smart Motorways "Inherently Unsafe"

Smart motorways have been labelled “inherently unsafe and dangerous and should be abandoned” by a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

In an open letter to the Transport Secretary Grant Schapps, PCC for South Yorkshire Dr Alan Billings made the statement following a coroner’s verdict that two men had been unlawfully killed on a stretch of smart motorway on the M1.

Jason Mercer and Alexandru Murgeanu were killed in 2019 when, following a collision involving their vehicles, they were struck by a lorry while exchanging details. The coroner stated that the two deaths could have been avoided.

In a statement, Highways England said on the BBC website; “We will carefully consider any further comments raised by the coroner once we receive the report.”

Debate has raged about the suitability of a motorway where there is no hard shoulder for broken down vehicles. Instead an additional lane is opened – with signalling from digital signs above the road – during busy periods and closed should a broken-down vehicle be reported.

There are refuge points, but these are spaced apart and significantly so when comparing them to hard shoulder motorways.

Despite being designed to improve congestion and road efficiency, there have been 38 deaths since 2014 (up to January 2020) when they were introduced.

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