'LET’S give two cheers that the national roll-out of smart motorways has been put on hold by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
I’ll reserve the full three until we hear that he has scrapped this lethal policy altogether and puts in place measures which reverse the 200 or so miles of motorway it already covers.
'To be fair, that’s just a tenth of all the motorway miles in the UK. Yet, the stretches which have already been converted, losing their hard shoulder and reliant on overhead cameras to control lanes and speed limits, represent some of the busiest of all roads. Ergo, more accidents. And sadly, more deaths.
Highways England itself admits that breakdowns are a staggering 216 per cent more dangerous on smart motorways than on ‘normal’ ones. The main issue is the time it takes for smart motorway CCTV to spot what’s known as a ‘live lane breakdown’ to trigger lane closure and protect motorists, passengers and recovery and emergency services; the AA, using Highways England data, says the average time for this response is 17 minutes and one second.
That’s almost 20 minutes in a life-threatening situation. And the official advice is still to exit your vehicle if you break down and find a place of safety to wait? It’s surprising the death toll isn’t higher.
I’ve been driving for more than a quarter of a century and, as an experienced driver, I find these smart motorway rules extremely stressful. And that’s without even breaking down or worse, suffering a collision or tyre blow-out (touch wood) at 70mph. Even Highways England boss, Jim O’Sullivan, has warned that they are “too complicated” for drivers. And the head of the Police Federation, John Apter, calls them a “death trap”.'
Read More: Please stop ‘death trap’ smart motorways before more lives killed on M1 in Yorkshire - Jayne Dowle