Panorama to focus on ‘Britain’s Killer Motorways’

09.22 | 27 January 2020 | | 6 comments

Image: DfT

Smart motorways are set to come under intense scrutiny tonight during an episode of BBC’s Panorama programme (8.30pm).

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request sent by Panorama to Highways England – reported by BBC News –  shows 38 people have been killed on smart motorways in the last five years.

The FoI request also reveals on one section of the M25, the number of near misses has risen 20-fold since the hard shoulder was removed in April 2014.

In the five years before the road was converted into a smart motorway there were 72 near misses. In the five years after, there were 1,485.

During tonight’s episode ‘Panorama, Britain’s Killer Motorways?’, transport secretary Grant Shapps says he wants to ‘fix’ smart motorways because they are too confusing for drivers.

He also says the findings of a government review are due to be announced shortly, and will include recommendations to improve safety.

The BBC understands this will include scrapping dynamic smart motorways, where the hard shoulder is opened to traffic during busy periods – but closed at others.

A vehicle detection system – which can spot stranded vehicles as soon as drivers break down – will be fitted across the whole smart motorway network over the next three years, while there will also be more emergency lay-bys.

Meanwhile, the former government minister who approved the roll-out of smart motorways tells Panorama he was misled about the risks of taking away the hard shoulder.

Sir Mike Penning agreed to the expansion in 2010 after a successful pilot on the M42 near Birmingham.

An all-party group of MPs, led by Mr Penning, will publish a report on Monday that accuses Highways England of “a shocking degree of carelessness”.

Panorama, Britain’s Killer Motorways? is on BBC One at 8.30pm on Monday 27 January.



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Order by Latest first | Oldest first | Highest rated | Lowest rated

    Illegal number plates! In order to not get get caught speeding or other illegal activity (flytipping) so many drivers are using illegal, disguised, tinted, obscured plates, or they often just take them off completely, usually the front one, sometimes leaving it on the dashboard, or not. Dash cams can add to road safety by submitting footage, but it’s of no use on invisible or unreadable registration plates. We need greater and serious enforcement of this too. I would favour a specific offence for failing to clearly display a standard number plate.

    Robert Skinner, Telford
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    The UK does not have dangerous roads, some may be challenging.The old age problem is dangerous drivers, either intentionally or simply those that are unable to drive safely for numerous reasons. Get the real road safety experts to explain, not head of recovery service or someone who’s read a book. Panorama sadly good intentions but poorly presented

    GuidoRip, Southampton
    Agree (0) | Disagree (2)

    Further to Rod’s comment (and mine) how about RSGB lodging a complaint with the BBC on this regular and unsafe practice?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (6) | Disagree (12)

    Did anyone notice that the reporter – whilst talking self-righteously about ‘dangerous M’ways’ – was doing so whilst driving on the M’way, taking his eye off the road to talk to the camera! Dangerous drivers not dangerous roads is the problem.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (8) | Disagree (14)

    Once again we have the ridiculous situation whereby a BBC news program that ostensibly is concerned with road safety showing a presenter driving through what they claim is an unsafe motorway, whilst at the same time speaking to the camera. Not only eyes going off the road but also at one time both hands as well.

    This happens time and time again when people who claim their job is complicated enough to require huge salaries places their lives and others in danger by culpably participating in actions that distract from their driving.

    Why does the police not prosecute the presenters and directors concerned? After all there is plenty of evidence.

    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (11) | Disagree (12)

    Why not a Panorama focus on ‘killer drivers’ instead, who are present on all the other roads where most fatalities occur? Answer: no authorities for Panorama to indignantly confront and point the finger at and therefore no programme..

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (10) | Disagree (21)

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