Rollout of ‘death trap’ smart motorways paused as campaigners say it’s ‘not good enough’

GMB: Richard says smart motorways are a 'broken system'

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The Department for Transport announced the plans to pause the rollout of new smart motorway schemes as they announced a further £900million to improve safety on existing All Lane Running (ALR) motorways. Campaigners have spoken about the decision to pause the rollout, criticising the wait to close the “death trap” roads.

Appearing on Good Morning Britain, Claire Mercer spoke about the death of her husband, Jason, and another driver named Alexandru Murgeanu, who were killed by a HGV after a minor car accident on the M1 in 2019.

She said: “Any roads that are ‘significantly complete’ are still going to open and so it’s not even as good as it promised. It’s not good enough.

“It would have been much easier and much more cost effective to just close the first lane, even just as a temporary measure.

“Just close the first lane on all smart motorways and you’ve immediately got your hard shoulder back.

“He had a minor collision. It should have never been more than that. It was a minor collision, Junction 34, eight o’ clock on a Friday morning.

“There was little information. We didn’t know what smart motorways were two and a half years ago. The signs at that junction were terrible. All they said is ‘no hard shoulder for four miles’.

“It didn’t say that there’s an emergency refuge area a mile out of sight. The crash barriers hemmed the vehicles in, they can’t get out of the live running lanes.

“They [Jason and Alexandru] couldn’t get over the crash barrier because there was a 30 -foot drop to the slip road below.

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“A minor incident that should have been over in five minutes was actually one of the most horrific scenes of tragedy in recent times.”

There are three types of smart motorway roads in the UK controlled motorways which have three or more lanes, variable speed limits and a hard shoulder for emergency use only, with there being around 141 miles of this type of smart motorway.

There are around 63 miles of dynamic hard shoulder roads with variable speed limits, a hard shoulder that can be opened up to traffic at busy times and overhead signs.

The most common type is all lane running (ALR) with around 200 miles of this type of road in the UK, and feature variable speed limits, no hard shoulder, and emergency refuge areas every 1.6km or 2.5km.

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