Senior traffic police officers are saying that smart motorways are ‘causing serious problems for road users’, according to a RAC news report.
Formerly known as managed motorways, smart motorways use a range of technology to vary speed limits in response to driving conditions. They are divided into three different types: controlled motorway, all-lane running and hard shoulder running.
The RAC article says police officers are warning that ‘all-lane running’ stops emergency services from getting to the site of an accident and prevents police from pulling over drivers. It also suggests that HGV drivers from overseas, unaware of the changes, have ended up taking their breaks in the lay-bys installed for motorists to use in an emergency.
The Metropolitan Police is quoted as saying the decision to drop the hard shoulder has resulted in ‘significant risks’ for motorists.
The findings appear to contradict evaluation published recently by Highways England, which concluded that smart motorways are having ‘no adverse effect on safety’.
Just last month Highways England published two interim reports evaluating the all-lane running sections on the M25, J5 to 6 and J23 to 27, which also showed that average journey times had reduced in both directions.
Highways England says that smart motorways are ‘central to the modernisation of England’s motorways’ and have been designed to reduce congestion, improve journey time reliability and lead to shorter journey times, while at the same time maintaining safety.
In December 2015, the Transport Committee launched an inquiry into the impact of all-lane running to inform how future policy should evolve.
Photo: Highways England via Flickr used under Creative Commons