PCC Responds to Government Announcement on Smart Motorways

Following an announcement from the government that “all-lane running” smart motorways have been paused while their safety is assessed, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings said: “Whilst this is a positive move from the government, it simply doesn’t go far enough.

“For as long as I have been PCC I have been concerned about the type of smart motorway we have in South Yorkshire between junctions 32 and 35a of the M1.

“South Yorkshire police expressed grave reservations about safety when they were first mooted. I believe they are inherently unsafe and I fully support Clare Mercer in her campaign to stop them.

“I often hear from members of the public about how they feel anxious using these stretches of smart motorway. We have not only had fatalities but also many near misses. While collisions are recorded there is no information on near misses.

“If there is a collision and traffic comes to a halt, a smart motorway presents a huge challenge for recovery workers when there is no hard shoulder to drive along and they have to navigate through stationary vehicles. HGV drivers have told me how hazardous it is trying to navigate around stationary vehicles in a live lane.

“There is a time lag between a vehicle breaking down and a controller closing the lane by putting a red cross on the overhead gantries. That time gap is a period of great peril for anyone who has broken down or anyone who is travelling behind them in the same lane and at speed.

“I welcome the government’s decision to review the safety of smart motorways, but continue to urge them to abandon the scheme altogether. We should be designing dangers out of roads not building them in.”