The Transport Committee has criticised the Government for ‘blatantly ignoring’ safety concerns about all-lane running schemes.
In a statement released today (29 Sept), the Committee takes ‘real issue’ with the Government’s assertion that all-lane running schemes on motorways are no different to other types of roads without hard shoulders.
It also has reservations over the Government’s endorsement of the proposed M4 scheme, and says it should be shelved until a review looking at Emergency Refuge Areas is complete. Earlier in the month, the Commitee said the scheme could put lives at risk.
A Transport Committee report published earlier this year recommended that the Government should not proceed with all lane running schemes while major safety concerns exist.
The report argues that the permanent conversion of the hard shoulder into a running lane is a radical change to the nature of motorways and creates a real challenge for motorists.
However, despite this the Government has expressed its desire to press ahead with the latest design of all lane running schemes, including a stretch of the M4.
In its response to the report, the Government revealed that Highways England is to review the spacing of emergency lay-bys in a bid to reduce the likelihood of cars stopping in live lanes.
Louise Ellman, chair of the Transport Committee, said: “The DfT is blatantly ignoring the safety concerns set out in our report. We had barely received the response to our report before the Government endorsed an all lane running scheme on the M4.
“The Committee isn’t arguing with the Government about the need for more capacity on our motorways, or their statement that motorways are our safest roads. We support smart motorways such as the M42 scheme.
“But we take real issue with the Government’s assertion that all lane running schemes on motorways are no different to other types of roads without hard shoulders. Motorways are a different class of road and drivers have different expectations when using them.
“The Committee remains concerned about the size and spacing of Emergency Refuge Areas. While we are pleased that Highways England has committed to a review, the M4 proposal should not have gone ahead until the review is complete.”
Photo: Highways England via Flickr used under Creative Commons.