AA raises concerns over smart motorways

The new emergency areas on the M3 Picture: Stuart Thompson Photography
The new emergency areas on the M3 Picture: Stuart Thompson Photography
Jacqui Edward and Suzette Gough at last year's Christmas Sessions beer festival Picture: Habibur Rahman

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A DRIVING organisation has expressed safety concerns over smart motorways after the M27 plans draw closer to the start date.

The AA is urging the government to rethink its decision to go ahead with smart motorways.

Jack Cousens said: ‘We have serious concerns about the smart motorway scheme called “All lane running” which uses the hard shoulder as a lane.

‘The trade-off is that you have laybys called emergency refuge areas and the problem with them we think is that they are too far apart at 2km and we would prefer a kilometre to a kilometre and a half apart.’

The £1.5bn scheme by Highways England will see the hard shoulder, from Junction 4 to Junction 11 for Fareham, converted into an extra lane with technology to manage the flow of traffic and reduce congestion.

A scheme to convert the M3 in north Hampshire to a smart motorway has just been completed.

Fareham MP, Suella Fernandes has previously supported the project.

She said: ‘Good roads are vital for enabling businesses to grow, supporting the economy and improving quality of life.

‘But for years, chronic congestion along parts of the M27 has been a major concern for local people, it’s become one of the top issues people in Fareham contact me about.

‘So I absolutely welcome the news that work to upgrade the M27 to a Smart motorway will start in early 2018 - which will cut congestion and improve journey times.

Research by the AA last year showed that eight out of ten drivers think the removal of hard-shoulders on Smart motorways has made motorways more dangerous than four years ago.

Mr Cousens added: ‘In the past people have been using these laybys for stopping and not realising they are for emergencies.

‘Highways England have put in more signage and covered them in orange paint but we do not believe a lick of paint is enough.

‘We want twice the number of emergency stops.’

Last year, the AA gave evidence to the government’s transport select committee and Mr Cousens said: ‘The Transport Select Committee agreed with us that there are safety concerns and “all lane running” projects should be stopped but the government have not done that.’