Category Archives: Road Safety

Are Smart Motorways Safe?


An AA poll shows 8 out of 10 drivers think removal of hard shoulder for Smart Motorway makes motorway more dangerous.

According to an AA Populus poll of 20,845 drivers, eight out of 10 drivers believe that in comparison to four years ago, they feel the Smart Motorways have made motorways more dangerous, with some describing emergency lay-bys as “death zones”.

Guidance from Highways England says stopping places are to be no more than 1.6 miles apart on motorways where the hard shoulder can be opened to traffic during busy periods, but the AA have said drivers have made it “abundantly clear” that they feel this is insufficient.

Drivers feel that this is not enough to avoid broken down vehicles being forced to stop in live running lanes, with the danger of being hit from behind.

When asked by AA to describe their thoughts on the lay-bys, phrases such as “death zones”, “foolish planners’ promised land” and “desperate unreachable havens” were used.

The motoring company have said that they would like to see twice as many lay-bys and they should be twice the length.

Officials have been keen to press ahead with smart motorway projects, which are already in operation on sections of the M42, M1, M6, M4 and M5.

Highways England say Smart Motorways tackle congestion, which costs an estimated £2Bn every year, with 25% of this resulting from incidents.

Analysis gathered by Highways England since the opening of Smart Motorways shows a 22% increase in journey reliability, a reduction in personal injury accidents by more than half, and where accidents did occur, severity was much lower overall with zero fatalities and few seriously injured.