Rollout of all-lane smart motorways halted – but M4 scheme to continue

Transport secretary halts the  opening of new smart motorways

The rollout of all-lane running smart motorways is set to be temporarily stopped by the Government – but the ongoing construction of the M4 scheme will continue.

Campaigners have been lobbying the Government to ditch its smart motorways due to safety fears for drivers who break down without a hard shoulder to take refuge in.

The M4 is one of the country’s motorways where work is being carried out to permanently convert the hard shoulder into a live traffic lane.

The Department for Transport has now announced the rollout of new all-lane running smart motorway schemes will be paused until five years of safety data is available.

Schemes which are currently under construction, such as the M4, will be completed.

But the Government said they will all be fitted with technology to detect stopped vehicles with £390million also earmarked to introduce extra emergency stopping areas.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “While our initial data shows smart motorways are among the safest roads in the UK, it is crucial that we go further to ensure people feel safer using them.

“Pausing schemes yet to start construction and making multi-million pound improvements to existing schemes will give drivers confidence and provide the data we need to inform our next steps.”

Nick Harris, chief executive of National Highways, added: “While we pause those all lane running schemes yet to start construction, we will complete the schemes currently in construction.

"We will make existing sections as safe as they can possibly be and we will step up our advice to drivers so they have all the information they need.

“We are doing this because safety is our absolute priority and we want drivers to not just be safer, but also to feel safe on our busiest roads.” 

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