Smart motorways could be on the radar if, as expected, Liz Truss is elected the next UK prime minister. The first-place finisher in the race to become the next leader of the Conservative Party was asked about ‘all-lane’ motorways in the final spots before results were announced and raised suspicion. seriously doubt this concept.
“I absolutely think we need to look at them and stop them if they don’t work ASAP,” she said. “All the evidence I have suggests they don’t work. t worked. “
The comments raise further questions around the future of smart roads, which have been the subject of ongoing and growing controversy over safety issues. Smart motorways were conceived as a means of increasing road capacity by allowing drivers to drive on hard shoulders and improving traffic flow with variable speed limits. The overhead truss displays information about whether hard shoulder and other lanes were open for use at a particular time, as well as the current speed limit.
Research by Kwik Fit earlier this year found that 73% of 2,000 drivers surveyed avoided driving with a hard shoulder when it was open to use as a direct lane. This is up from 56% of those who gave this answer when the question was last asked in 2019.
At that time, understanding of road signs and rules for smart cars had improved, but safety concerns still grew. About 31% of the respondents who avoided the bar when the vehicle was going straight said that they did so in the event of a frontal breakdown. Meanwhile, 30% of motorists believe that driving on hard shoulders is simply unsafe.
Deployment of smart highway has been paused
The government has halted the rollout of new smart motorways for five years, after agreeing to a series of recommendations made by the Transport Commission in 2021.
Smart motorways running on all lanes are under construction and more than half complete – such as on the M4 and M27 – to be completed, but other plans will be put on hold until the Government collects revenue. collected 5 years of economic and safety data for every ALR Project introduced before 2020.
This comes after the Committee on Transport concluded that the decision by the Department for Transport (DfT) in March 2020 to have all new motorways run in full lanes was premature, because “the insufficient evidence base”.
The conversion of seven dynamic hard-shoulder smart motorways – where the outside lane can switch between a hard shoulder and a live lane – to the ALR will also be halted. In addition, the case for controlled motorways where variable speed limits are implemented, but stiff shoulders remain as standard, will be reviewed.
The DfT and National Highway has committed to a £390 million retrofit program, which includes the installation of 150 new emergency shelters – spaced no more than three-quarters of a mile if possible – and further discontinuing vehicle detection technology. convenient. These measures will be independently assessed by the Office of Railways and Roads and reported annually.
Edmund King, president of AA, commented on the halt to Smart Highway rollout: “AA has been a key critic of smart motorways in our campaign for over a decade to improve their safety. Finally, we have a transportation secretary that has progressed and has an active and pragmatic approach. Today he has accepted many of the measures we are calling for.”
He added: “While smart motorways will never be perfect, we believe significant progress has been made to make them safer. We will ask the Government for accountability to ensure these actions are taken as soon as possible.”
Do you avoid using open stiff shoulders on smart car roads? Let us know what you think in the comments below…