PCC Backs MP Call for Government to End Deadly Smart Motorways

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner is supporting Rotherham MP Sarah Champion as she is set to lead a debate in the House of Commons demanding the Government abandon the so-called smart motorways.

In the debate tomorrow (22 February 2023) Ms Champion will highlight the dangers of all-lane running motorways that have claimed 79 lives on British roads. In South Yorkshire there have been three deaths and other serious accidents since 2018.

Dr Billings has regularly and extensively raised concerns around the safety of smart motorways in recent years, including writing to the Transport Minister and the Transport Select Committee urging them to listen to growing anxieties within South Yorkshire. He last wrote to the Minister in November 2022 when the technology operating the overhead gantries failed, but is yet to receive a reply.

He has expressed grave concerns following the deaths and subsequent inquests into the deaths of Jason Mercer, Alexandru Murgeanu and Nardis Begum. Coroners concluded that the lack of a hard shoulder contributed to all three deaths.

Dr Billings said: “I fully support Sarah Champion’s call to end these deadly motorways and urge the government to restore the hard shoulders across the motorway network.

“It has always been my view that it is inherently dangerous when a vehicle stops, for whatever reason, in a live lane and there is no hard shoulder. This has led to fatalities and to numerous near misses.  and a refuge is too far away. It builds danger into the motorway network when we should be designing danger out.

“When a vehicle breaks down in a live lane there will always be a time lapse before a controller is able to show a red cross above it on the gantry and stop other vehicles using the lane. This puts lives at risk. As long as smart motorways are in use the travelling public are always in danger.”