Miles of motorway around Britain are being upgraded – but are the changes a good idea and is it safe?

After driving along a stretch of the M1, earlier this week, which was being transformed into a smart motorway it got me thinking about what ‘smart’ meant and how it was being applied to our motorways. So, I did a little research to see what others were saying online.

Fleet News covered the same topic with their article on the RAC reaction to smart motorways.

RAC technical director, David Bizley, were quoted saying: “We have raised concerns with the Highway Agency about the added risk arising from increased distance between emergency refuge areas, and we are disappointed so far at the absence of action to address them.”

The Highways Agency counter argued this, saying: “There are clear advantages for anyone that drives frequently. Improved traffic flow reduces driver stress suffered from the stop-start nature of driving on congested roads.”

What are smart motorways?

According to the Highways Agency a smart motorway helps relieve congestion by using technology to vary speed limits. They also allow the hard shoulder to be fully converted to a running lane to create additional capacity.

Where are the smart motorways?

If you drive on the M6 and M42 around Birmingham, M1 near Bedfordshire or the M62 between junction 25 and 30 in West Yorkshire then you would have experienced smart motorways.

Work has begun on M4 between junction 19 and 20 and the M5 and northern parts of the M1.

See the full map of work below.

The independent road safety charity, IAM, is also worried about the safety of smart motorways

IAM carried out a survey that revealed that 71% of the 1,582 drivers surveyed would feel less safe on a motorway with no hard shoulder.

Simon Best, IAM chief executive, said: “Smart motorways are being rolled out across England but out survey shows that drivers want more reassurance and information on how safe they will be and how to use them. The IAM has been supportive of hard shoulder running but we have always said that the Highways Agency must be quick to learn and implement any real world lessons as more schemes come into use.”

ADI views

It’s your job to teach people to drive and be safe on the road. How do you think smart motorways will affect our highways? Are they a good idea? Tell us on Facebook.