The UK Government has announced it will put the development of 57 miles of new ‘all-lane’ smart motorways on hold for five years, following safety concerns.
As a result of today’s decision, smart motorways works on the M3, M40/42, M62 and M25 will be suspended.
The project’s safety and economic data will be collected for five years from motorways built before 2020, after MPs in November said there was not enough information on the schemes to move forward, the BBC reported.
According to Highways England, the government agency in charge of overseeing the highway network, around 400 miles of motorways are already in use, of which 200 lack a permanent hard shoulder. Critics believe that while smart motorways increase traffic flow, they also lack to provide a safe place to stop for stranded motorists.
“While our initial data shows that smart motorways are among the safest roads in the UK, it’s crucial that we go further to ensure people feel safer using them,” commented transport secretary Grant Shapps.
Commenting on the news, the RAC called the government’s decision “an unqualified victory for drivers.”
“Rather than ploughing on regardless in the face of mounting public opposition, we’re pleased the government has finally hit the pause button and given itself time to fully consider the safety of these schemes, and the way our motorways are adapted to increase capacity from now on,” said RAC’s head of road policy Nicholas Lyes.
“Today’s decision to review a full five years of all the safety data and to look at all possible options with a fresh perspective should ensure our motorways can accommodate increased traffic volumes safely and – just as importantly – that the drivers using them feel safe doing so.”