IAM RoadSmart is calling on the DfT and Highways England to listen to motorists when determining the best approach to developing the smart motorway network.
The majority of respondents (85%) to a survey, carried out by the road safety charity, want to see a halt on the construction of smart motorways until the safety case is fully proven.
Furthermore, 84% of the 4,500 people surveyed said they had little faith in the ability of the current safety systems to protect them until help arrived if they were to experience a breakdown in a running lane.
More than 80% reported feeling less safe travelling on a smart motorway compared to a conventional motorway.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “Our members include many high mileage, experienced and confident motorway users but the results of this survey are clear to see, with the vast majority having very little, or no confidence, in the safety of smart motorways.
“We would urge the DfT and Highways England to listen to what smart motorway users are saying and to consider our findings, along with other in-depth research, to determine the best approach to developing the smart motorway network.
“Delaying decisions on smart motorways will only lead to more drivers getting stressed.
“Alongside more education for drivers, IAM RoadSmart wants to see strong leadership with clear decisions taken soon on whether the programme should be reversed, or provided with the appropriate funding that will speed up delivery of the promised refuges, CCTV and vehicle detection technology.”
Smart motorways, which use variable speed limits and hard shoulder running to manage traffic and tackle stop-start congestion, have existed in England since 2002.
The most common type in the UK, all-lane-running (ALR), was introduced in 2014 and involves opening the hard shoulder permanently to drivers.