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Government outlines measures to improve smart motorway safety

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The govt says it needs to “raise the bar” on smart motorway safety, following grievance of the scheme.

Smart motorways had been condemned as a result of they don’t all the time have a troublesome shoulder and drivers who spoil down can also be trapped within the dashing site visitors.

The motorways will stay, however dynamic arduous shoulders – which can also be opened for site visitors in busy classes – are to be scrapped.

Thirty-eight folks had been killed on smart motorways within the ultimate 5 years.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request despatched through the BBC’s Panorama to Highways England printed that during one phase of the M25, outdoor London, the selection of close to misses had risen 20-fold because the arduous shoulder used to be got rid of in April 2014.

In the 5 years earlier than the street used to be transformed right into a smart motorway, there have been simply 72 close to misses. In the 5 years after, there have been 1,485.

Jim O’Sullivan, the manager government of Highways England, mentioned: “Every death in any road accident is tragic, and we are determined to do all we can to make our roads as safe as possible.”

There are two varieties of smart motorway in the United Kingdom.

The first is the place the arduous shoulder is opened to site visitors when it’s busy. The 2nd is the place the arduous shoulder is open at all times and drivers who spoil down are inspired to pull into emergency stops.

Announcing the plan to improve smart motorway safety, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps mentioned: “The overall evidence shows that in most ways smart motorways are as safe or safer than conventional ones. But they are not in every way.”

In addition to abolishing the “confusing” dynamic arduous shoulder, the federal government has mentioned it’ll additionally scale back the gap between puts to forestall in an emergency to 3 quarters of a mile the place imaginable.

It says this will likely imply on long run schemes, motorists must in most cases achieve a forestall each 45 seconds at 60mph. The most spacing will likely be one mile.

The govt’s plan additionally comprises measures to:

Install 10 further emergency spaces at the present M25 smart motorway phase. Making emergency spaces extra visual Introducing extra site visitors indicators giving the gap to the following position to forestall in an emergency Committing £5m to a communications marketing campaign to build up consciousness of the way smart motorways paintings

Mr Shapps said the adjustments would price “quite a lot of money”, including it would achieve “hundreds of millions of pounds”.

“Nothing is more important to me than making sure our road networks are completely safe,” he mentioned.

RAC head of roads coverage Nicholas Lyes mentioned it used to be welcome that the federal government had listened to drivers’ issues however added “it remains to be seen if these measures go far enough to protect drivers”.

While the AA’s Edmund King mentioned the adjustments had been “a victory for common sense and road safety”.

But Labour MP Sarah Champion mentioned the proposals didn’t “go far enough” and referred to as at the govt to repair smart motorways “to traditional operation”.

She accused Mr Shapps of “allowing these lethal roads to continue to operate”.

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Smart motorways had been offered with the purpose of accelerating capability and easing congestion through the usage of the arduous shoulder as an additional lane.

But they have got been criticised through the federal government minister who in the beginning licensed the roll-out in 2010.

Speaking to Panorama in January, Sir Mike Penning, who’s now not a minister, mentioned he have been misled in regards to the dangers of taking out the arduous shoulder.

The Conservative MP mentioned he had agreed to the growth in 2010 after a a hit pilot at the M42 close to Birmingham.

The pilot labored neatly as a result of there have been secure preventing issues for motorists, referred to as emergency safety refuges, on reasonable each 600 metres.

But when the scheme used to be expanded around the nation, the safety refuges had been positioned additional aside – on some sections, they’re 2.five miles aside.

“They are endangering people’s lives,” mentioned Sir Mike. “There are people that are being killed and seriously injured on these roads, and it should never have happened.”

Responding to his feedback, Highways England mentioned the plans to enlarge smart motorways had been licensed through ministers and that it used to be running to acquire the information about safety.

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