Smart motorway concerns raised by MPs as M27 work continues

COUNCILLORS have voiced their views on the M27 conversion after MPs criticised the national smart motorway rollout.

Friday, 5th November 2021, 12:48 pm
Updated Friday, 5th November 2021, 12:59 pm
Smart motorways have caused a lot of controversy with concerns about their safety.

Highways England is carrying out work between junction 4 and 11 on the M27, between Eastleigh and Fareham, including removing hard shoulders.

Safety concerns have been raised across the country due to higher fatality rates on such roads compared to conventional motorways.

In a report this week, the Commons Transport Select Committee said there was not enough safety and economic data to justify continuing with smart motorway projects.

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The MPs’ report said the decision to make smart motorways all-lane running was ‘premature' and the rollout should be paused for five years to collect more data.

However, the report did not recommend reinstating hard shoulders where they have been removed.

The Department for Transport said it would consider the recommendations.

Now Keith House, leader of Eastleigh Borough Council, said: ‘We’ve had real concerns as have many people about smart motorways given the issues about the number of accidents and road safety.

‘There’s got to be a kind of additional protection for those parts of the motorway network that don’t have a hard shoulder because there’s nowhere safe to go.

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Cllr House’s principal concern is that the smart motorway shouldn’t be introduced until so-called stopped vehicle protection is in place.

This system monitors the motorway lanes in both directions and detects whether a vehicle has stopped.

However, Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council said stopped vehicle protection technology is currently being deployed.

He said: ‘They're throwing massive technology at it, the latest piece is this radar system that detects stationary traffic, if a vehicle stops an alarm goes off.

‘It’s going to take a month or two as I understand it to embed that technology.

‘Safety is a huge concern as people die on roads every day of the week but motorways are our safest highways.

‘That’s not because of hard shoulders, it's just that if you compare them with country roads and poor visibility and problems like that then it stands to reason that motorways will be safer.’

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