The Government is pausing the construction of new smart motorways amid safety fears – but the decision will be too late for Hampshire residents as the £244 million project to remove hard shoulders from the M27 will continue.
That’s because the pausing only applies to new schemes or those less than 50% complete, but the M27 is closer to being finished so will open, although the Government says it will be adding extra safety before this happens.
The decision to pause the rollout of smart motorway schemes will be paused until a full five years’ worth of safety data is available, as campaigners say the lack of hard shoulders is dangerous and costs lives.
In addition to the pausing, Government says current smart motorways without a permanent hard shoulder will be equipped with best-in-class technology and resources to make them as safe as possible.
This will include investing £390 million to install more than 150 additional Emergency Areas so drivers have more places to stop if they get into difficulty. This will represent around a 50% increase in places to stop by 2025, giving drivers added
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “One of my first actions as Transport Secretary was to order a stocktake of smart motorways and since then, I have worked consistently to raise the bar on their safety.
“I am grateful to the Transport Committee and to all those who provided evidence for its work. While our initial data shows that smart motorways are among the safest roads in the UK, it’s 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. I want thank safety campaigners, including those who have lost loved ones, for rightly striving for higher standards on our roads. I share their concerns.”
Road safety campaigner, Meera Naran, whose 8-year-old son Dev, died in a motorway crash on the M6 in 2018, said: “I welcome this pause in the rollout of smart motorways which will give us all a positive opportunity to assess the future of our motorway network.”