The introduction of smart motorways has been suspended by the government until at least 2025 in response to safety concerns.
Schemes to convert stretches of the M3, M25, M62 and M40 will be postponed until five years’ worth of safety data from the controversial roads are available.
Community had previously called for a suspension in the introduction of more smart motorways pending new safety measures.
Tony Dunne, National Officer for the trade union Community, says:
“We are very pleased that the rollout of new smart motorways has been suspended until at least 2025 with a view of introducing a number of safety enhancements.
We have serious concerns about the implications of removing the hard shoulder – and the potential dangers that causes to our members who work on the road in transport, haulage or road safety.
It is of the highest importance that new smart motorways will not be able to open without additional safety measures to spot broken down vehicles quickly, and that existing smart motorways will receive the technology sooner than planned.”
Smart motorways, which use technology to maintain the flow of traffic and give information on overhead displays, have existed in England since 2002.
The “all lane running” versions – which involves opening the hard shoulder permanently to drivers – began in 2014.
There have been a number of publicised serious accidents where cars have been stopped in the inside lane of a smart motorway and have been hit by a vehicle travelling behind. Though the red X signage system is in place, it is clearly insufficient.
Furthermore, the distance between refuge areas prevents those in vehicles that have broken down from being able to reach a place of safety, particularly in the case of sudden engine failure.
Safety on our busiest roads is of paramount importance. There are over 35,000 serious injuries and 1,700 fatalities on Britain’s roads every year.
Community is the recognised union of the AA, and have thousands of members across the logistics sector.
If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at email@example.com or on 0800 389 6332.