Today the UK Government has announced that it will be pausing the roll-out of ‘smart motorways’ to assess their safety. Commenting on this development, Rebecca Needham, Road Safety Officer at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said:
“We welcome the publication of the Department for Transport’s response to the House of Commons Transport Committee report and the decision to pause the roll-out of smart motorways. During the evidence gathering stage of the report, RoSPA provided an expert witness and made a number of recommendations to improve the safety of smart motorways.
“RoSPA has been calling for an increase in the number of emergency refuge areas on ‘all lane running’ (ALR) smart motorways and we are pleased to see that the Department for Transport has committed to a retrofit a further 150 emergency refuge areas to existing schemes.
“It is vitally important that a programme to retrofit emergency refuges on ALR motorways is put in place, because between 2015 and 2019, 39 people died on UK smart motorways, according to figures from National Highways.
“Currently on ALR motorways, the emergency refuges are spaced at up to 1.6 miles apart. Today’s report adopts RoSPA’s recommendation to reduce the distance between safe stopping places on ALR motorways to a maximum of 1,500 metres and down to 1,000 metres (0.75 miles) where physically possible.”
“RoSPA also embraces the recognition in the report that further effort is required to better inform motorists about how to safely navigate smart motorways and we look forward to supporting this”.