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Drivers Feel Unsafe Using SMART Motorways

Jun 23, 2015
As SMART motorways reached their first birthday in the UK in April, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) expressed concern that widespread confusion still exists amongst motorway users.

England’s first ‘all-lane running’ motorway, without a hard shoulder, was the 2.5 km stretch of the M25 between junctions 23 and 25. Other schemes are now in operation on sections of the M1; M4, M5, M6, M42 and M62. 

The IAM conducted a survey on the introduction of SMART motorways last year, which found 71 per cent of drivers said they would feel less safe on a motorway with no hard shoulder than a motorway with one. Part of the concern raised by motorists was the safety of those who had broken down on a motorway with no hard shoulder, and the increase in distances between safety refuges. 

Some 40 per cent of respondents said they were sceptical that new monitoring systems on SMART motorways, such as traffic detectors and CCTV, would protect them in the event of stopping in a running lane.

Sarah Sillars, IAM Chief Executive Officer said, “There are many different motorway users out there and some are still confused and nervous about using SMART motorways – if they are aware of them at all.”

She added, “Highways England must analyse incident data on a continuous basis and ensure that any lessons learned from the real world use of SMART motorways are implemented quickly. Ultimately, the smartest way to build awareness would be to allow learner drivers to use motorways under expert supervision.”


Photo: Drivers feel less safe on a motorway without a hard shoulder.

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