July 24, 2024

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Smart motorway rollout was “entirely wrong”, transport secretary tells MPs

The secretary of state for transportation has criticised the way in which Highways England rolled out smart motorways, branding it “entirely wrong” and incorporating that motorists still don’t know how to travel on them the right way.

Speaking right before the Transportation Committee, Grant Shapps condemned the point that smart motorways “sprung up” without a public information marketing campaign on what they had been and how they labored, leaving drivers perplexed as to what to do if they split down in a live lane.

Shapps also admitted his surprise at Highways England not possessing carried out stopped automobile detection (SVD) technologies from the start out to decrease the time taken to location damaged-down motor vehicles. He said that the deadline for SVD to be set up on all stretches of smart motorway is staying introduced ahead from March 2023 to next year.

The Department for Transportation (DfT) previously executed an ‘evidence stocktake’ into smart motorways subsequent considerations about their safety. This resulted in dynamic smart motorways – wherever the outer lane can swap between staying a challenging shoulder and a live managing lane – staying abolished.

Meanwhile, all-lane managing (ALR) smart motorways – wherever there is no challenging shoulder – had been stored, with a motivation to position emergency refuge spots 3-quarters of a mile apart wherever doable, and no additional than a single mile apart on any new stretches of ALR smart motorway.

Shapps told the Transportation Committee that smart motorways are also highly-priced to get rid of, as building new challenging shoulders on all of them would need the acquire of land equivalent to “700 Wembley stadiums”.

Phone calls for smart motorway overview

Clever motorways became the issue of scrutiny all over again in January, when a coroner called for a overview of them after two adult males died when their stationary motor vehicles had been struck by a lorry on the M1.

Jason Mercer’s Ford Focus and Alexandru Murgeanu’s Ford Transit collided on a extend of the M1 smart motorway wherever there is no challenging shoulder. When the two drivers stopped to exchange details, they had been hit by a lorry staying pushed by Prezemyslaw Szuba.

Szuba is currently in prison, possessing admitted to creating death by careless driving last year. Despite the fact that Coroner David Urpeth said Szuba’s inattention to the road was the most important cause of the two men’s fatalities, the inquest at Sheffield City Corridor read that the incident may possibly have been averted if there had been a challenging shoulder for Mercer and Murgeanu to stop on.

Recording a verdict of illegal killing, Urpeth said he would write to Highways England and Grant Shapps, calling for a overview of smart motorways.

In a assertion, Highways England said: “We extend our deepest sympathies to the households of Alexandru Murgeanu and Jason Mercer. We recognise this proceeds to be an incredibly challenging time for them.

“Every road death is a tragic decline of daily life. We are determined to do all we can to make our roads as risk-free as doable and are presently addressing a lot of of the points raised… by the coroner as posted in the Government’s Clever Motorway Evidence Stocktake and Action Program of March 2020. We will thoroughly think about any additional reviews lifted by the coroner as soon as we get the report.”

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