Rishi Sunak bans new smart motorways after string of fatal incidents
Smart motorways will no longer be built in the UK over safety fears, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said.
Fourteen planned smart motorways – including 11 that are already paused and three earmarked for construction – will be removed from Government road building plans, given financial pressures and in recognition of the lack of public trust.
Around 10 per cent of England’s motorways is made up of smart motorways, which use various methods to manage the flow of traffic.
This includes converting the hard shoulder into a live running lane and variable speed limits.
However, the routes have been criticised following a number of fatal incidents in which vehicles stopped in live lanes without a hard shoulder were hit from behind.
Mr Sunak said he wanted drivers to have “confidence in the roads they use to get around the country”.
“That’s why last year I pledged to stop the building of all new smart motorways, and today I’m making good on that promise.
“Many people across the country rely on driving to get to work, to take their children to school and go about their daily lives, and I want them to be able to do so with full confidence that the roads they drive on are safe.”
Campaigner Claire Mercer, whose husband was killed on a smart motorway in South Yorkshire, welcomed the Government’s move but pledged to continue pushing for the hard shoulder to return on every road.
She said: “It’s great, it’s very good news.
“I’m particularly happy that it’s been confirmed that the routes that are in planning, in progress, have also been cancelled. I didn’t think they’d do that.
“So it’s good news, but obviously it’s the existing ones that are killing us. And I’m not settling for more emergency refuge areas.”
Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Mr Mercer’s Rotherham constituency, said: “I’m relieved the Government has finally listened to motorists and common sense, but this announcement is long overdue and I need to see the detail before celebrating.
“Will the Government be returning the hard shoulder on existing conversions? Will the schemes currently in construction be restored? Why now when 2 parliamentary select committee inquiries, their own review and countless campaigns by family members of those who died on these death traps wasn’t enough to persuade them.”
AA president Edmund King said: “We have had enough coroners passing down their deadly and heart-breaking judgments where the lack of a hard shoulder has contributed to deaths.
“At last the Government has listened and we are delighted to see the rollout of ‘smart’ motorways scrapped…
“We would also like to see the hard shoulder reinstated on existing stretches in due course.”