National Highways says smart motorways will be safer by September after two years of works

The installation of new safety equipment on smart motorways will be completed within the next five months to help to ensure drivers “feel safe” on the roads.

By Ian Hirst
Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 6:00 am

National Highways said it is on course to upgrade 95 cameras to enable automatic detection of vehicles ignoring red X lane closure signals by the end of September.

The cameras give police the ability to issue £100 fines to offenders without spotting them in the act, as was the case previously.

The upgrade is aimed at reducing the number of motorists who ignore the signs, which are used when lanes are closed due to a broken-down vehicle or roadworks.

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The smart motorway scheme at Hartshead services

Concerns have been raised about fatal incidents where vehicles stopped in traffic on smart motorways without a hard shoulder were hit from behind.

National Highways said it will add to the 330 additional signs already installed which inform drivers of the distance to the next emergency refuge area and that it is on track to complete the rollout of radar technology to improve detection of stopped vehicles in live lanes on more than 200 miles of smart motorways by the end of September.

Nick Harris, National Highways’ Chief Executive, said: “Our network is relied upon by an ever-increasing number of people to work, visit family and friends, do business and much more. It is only right that these drivers and their passengers are safe and, crucially, feel safe on our roads, including smart motorways.

“It is now two years since the Transport Secretary first published the smart motorway stocktake and today’s report shows that we are making good progress delivering on these ambitious recommendations. But we are not complacent.

“The latest data shows that, overall, in terms of serious or fatal casualties, smart motorways are our safest roads. We are continuing our work to make them our safest roads in every way. We will continue to build on the work already undertaken and continue to put safety first to help ensure drivers have confidence in the motorway network.”

In January, the Department for Transport and National Highways agreed to pause the roll-out of new all lane running motorways – those yet to begin construction – until five years of safety and economic data is available.

The pause will enable the Government to make informed decisions about enhancing capacity on the strategic road network. It was also announced that £390 million would be spent on new emergency areas or other places to stop in an emergency.

Smart motorways without a hard shoulder have been developed with the aim of creating more space on the busiest roads.

They are fitted with technology and features not seen on conventional motorways such as emergency areas (EAs) set-back from the carriageway, radar-based Stopped Vehicle Detection (SVD) and Red X signals on gantries to close live lanes.

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