Smart motorways to be reviewed after 38 killed in five years

Photo: West Midlands Police, Flickr

The government has confirmed to BBC Panorama that thirty-eight people have been killed on smart motorways over the last five years.

What makes the figure so striking is that it relates to such a small amount of road across Britain’s road network.

Furthermore, on one stretch of the M25 that was made a smart motorway five years ago, ‘near-misses’ went up over twenty-fold from 72 to 1,485 since installation.

The BBC Panorama exposé has brought about many stories across the nation about families who have been impacted by incidents on smart motorways, and indeed those who have not been but no longer feel safe driving on smart motorways.

What are smart motorways?

Smart motorways do not have a hard shoulder, or have a dynamic hard shoulder which allows for them to be designated as live lanes when there are no breakdowns.

The idea is that when a breakdown is reported, or detected by the car detection system, the lane effected is closed off for a safe distance either end of the incident. 

However it takes 17 minutes on average to even be spotted with a breakdown currently and a further 17 to be rescued.

What do I do if I break down on a smart motorway?

According to the AA, if you break down on a smart motorway then you should try to get off the motorway if you can and stop somewhere safe such as a service station, or a hard shoulder if there is one.

If there is not one of those in sight, aim for an emergency refuge area (ERA). Stopping to the left as far as possible with your hazard and side lights on. Get out of the car using the doors opposite the traffic if you can and aim to climb over the safety barrier and position yourself past the back of the car and as far up the verge and away from the barrier as possible.

If you stop in an ERA, you must use the SOS phone to contact the Regional Control Centre when you stop, and before you leave.

If you break down in a live lane, stay in your vehicle with your seat belt on and all lights on. Call 999 straight away so they can close the lane you are in.

If you have a disability which is stopping you from following these steps, keep your seatbelt on, switch on your hazard warning lights and use your phone to call the emergency services.

Have you been involved in a road traffic accident?

If you have been injured in a road traffic accident in the last three years that was not your fault, you may be entitled to receive personal injury compensation. Use the claim form below to see if you might have a claim and how much it could be worth and a member of our team will contact you to make sure that you’re okay and how we can help you get the compensation you need to be on the path to recovery.

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