The long awaited ‘swift review’ of smart motorways has shown that these new types of motorway are safer than traditional motorways in most ways, but not all.
For example, smart motorways reduce speeding and vehicles leaving the carriageway but they increase unsafe lane changing and of course the prospect of a vehicle stopping in a live lane.
The government has answered most of our concerns about the standard of smart motorway not being what was promised and we will see more vehicle detection, better information on signs and more frequent refuges.
The devil is in the detail however and some of the promises are still too vague. Taking up to three years to implement vehicle detection is unacceptable in some locations where refuges are too far apart or exiting the vehicle cannot be done safely due to bridges or embankments.
These measures will cost up to £700 million but it is essential that the programme is transparently and openly monitored to show that the promised improvements are being delivered as quickly as possible.
Prosecuting drivers for ignoring the Red X must start immediately and consistently across all police forces and IAM RoadSmart also welcomes the commitment to improve driver education and look forward to working with the Department for Transport and Highways England to deliver this.
Until engineering improvements come on line, education and enforcement are the only tools available - so they must start right away to reassure drivers that that smart motorways are safe and educate them on how to deal with them.