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Smart Motorways Update

The BMF has been updated on progress to make smart motorways safer, by the Department for Transport. Anna Zee (Political and Technical Services Director) attended a Transport Focus Road User Panel meeting and was told that the retro-fit of additional Emergency Areas is intended to be completed by March 2025 – they should then mostly be about 1km apart.

All Lane Running (ALR) ‘smart’ motorways replace the conventional hard shoulder with a live traffic lane, which is closed to traffic via overhead signs if a vehicle breaks down and is stationary in the lane. However, a series of collisions, some resulting in fatalities, have led to criticism of the whole concept of smart motorways, with a BBC Panorama programme highlighting faulty cameras and warning systems. The Department for Transport decided to halt the installation of ALRs in April 2023 and build 150 Emergency Refuge Areas on the ones that remained.

Anna Zee added: “Many people are calling for hard shoulders to be re-instated but it should perhaps be noted that about 20 people were killed on the hard shoulder last year. The most common causes of breakdown relate to tyres.”

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top image courtesy of Ashleigh Robertson – Unsplash