Motorists have ‘no confidence in the safety of smart motorways’
Drivers have almost given up with the implementation of smart motorway networks with the majority demanding construction of the roads comes to an end.
A new poll for IAM RoadSmart shows 85 percent of road users want to see construction halted until their safety can be proven. A further 84 percent said they had “little faith” in the current safety systems in place if their car broke down on one of the roads.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy and Research has urged the Department for Transport and Highways England to listen to the comments and come up with a new approach.
He has warned “delaying decisions” on the future of the roads could lead to drivers becoming stressed when behind the wheel.
He said: “Our members include many high mileage, experienced and confident motorway users but the results of this survey are clear to see, with the vast majority having very little, or no confidence, in the safety of smart motorways.
“We would urge the Department for Transport and Highways England to listen to what smart motorway users are saying and to consider our findings, along with other in-depth research, to determine the best approach to developing the smart motorway network.
“Delaying decisions on smart motorways will only lead to more drivers getting stressed.
“Alongside more education for drivers, IAM RoadSmart wants to see strong leadership with clear decisions taken soon on whether the programme should be reversed, or provided with the appropriate funding that will speed up delivery of the promised refuges, CCTV and vehicle detection technology.”
The new survey found 81 percent of road users felt less safe travelling on a smart motorway compared to a normal one.
Meanwhile, 81 percent of road users agreed hard shoulders should immediately be reinstated on smart motorways to increase safety.
One of the major selling points for the introduction of smart motorways was to reduce journey times by opening up an extra lane at peak times.
However, a total of 40 percent of road users said they found no noticeable improvements in their journey time using smart motorways.
Just four percent said they had noticed a major improvement while six percent said journey times were worse than before.
Mr Greig added: “This survey highlights a potentially very serious unintended consequence in that driver reluctance to use smart motorways could create increased traffic on local A and B roads.
“This would undoubtedly lead to an increased risk of collision and injury with even more delays and driver frustration resulting.”
His comments come just a week after experts at Royal Haskoning found all lane running smart motorway schemes had the “lowest intrinsic safety” of all motorways.
They found Safe Systems tools – which can eliminate the most deadly hazards – were not properly adopted on the roads.
The report found as a result of safety issues, drivers were more likely to die or be seriously injured during accidents on the roads.
However, Highways England claimed the collision risks for road users actually declined after all-lane running schemes were introduced.
It said their own research revealed smart motorways were just as safe, or safer than conventional motorways “in most ways”.