All new smart motorways will open with the technology in place to spot stopped or broken-down vehicles ‘quickly’, the Government has announced.
The pledge comes as part of a package of measures designed to ‘boost safety’ on smart motorways, while improving public confidence in the schemes.
It also includes plans to fit existing schemes with the stopped vehicle detection technology by September 2022 – six months earlier than previously planned.
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.
The Government says data shows that ALR motorways are one of the safest types of road in the country – adding that drivers on a conventional motorway are 33% more likely to be involved in a fatal collision than drivers on an ALR motorway.
However, fears remain about their safety among drivers and those within the road safety sector, heightened by a number of fatal collisions involving stationary cars being hit from behind.
Grant Shapps, transport secretary, said: “Despite the data showing that fatalities are less likely on All Lane Running motorways than on conventional ones, this doesn’t mean all drivers necessarily feel safe on them.
“That is why I tasked Highways England last year with delivering an action plan to raise the bar on safety measures even higher.
“Alongside the raft of measures already undertaken, today I am announcing that all new ALR motorways will open with stopped vehicle detection technology in place, as well as a programme to speed up the roll-out of the technology on previously built stretches of ALR motorways to next year.
“This will help us further reduce the risk of accidents on the country’s roads.
“So-called smart motorways started to be built in 2001 and I am determined to ensure that technology and exacting standards are in place.”