Britain’s so-called smart motorways have been branded a “death trap” by MPs in a report which has prompted criticism of Highways England.

Smart motorways transform the hard shoulder into another driving lane, leaving motorists who break down on parts of the M1, M4, M5, M6, M42 and M62, in the traffic.

The all-party Parliamentary group for roadside rescue and recovery’s report said the change was “shocking and careless” and had led to the deaths of road users.

Highways England had misled the public and authorities, Police Federation chairman John Apter told The Daily Telegraph.

“We were told the technology would be so advanced that if there was an obstruction the system would pick it up, help would be dispatched and the gantry would flash up a warning closing the affected lane,” he said.

“We … have been completely misled and a poor system has been introduced.”

Mr Apter said the roads should not be labelled “smart” because they “can be a death trap”.

<!-- EMBED START Twitter { src: "https://twitter.com/HighwaysEngland/status/1221891680418324480?s=20" } --><figure><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-width="525" data-dnt="true"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">That’s why we’ve been working closely with the Government to support its stocktake of smart motorways, including making recommendations for improvements. We stand ready to implement the findings of the stocktake as quickly as possible. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BBCPanorama?src=hash&refsrc=twsrc%5Etfw">#BBCPanorama</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/BBCPanorama?refsrc=twsrc%5Etfw">@BBCPanorama</a>

— Highways England (@HighwaysEngland) <a href="https://twitter.com/HighwaysEngland/status/1221891680418324480?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 27, 2020</a>

</blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></figure><!-- EMBED END Twitter { src: "https://twitter.com/HighwaysEngland/status/1221891680418324480?s=20" } -->The report comes as the former Government minister who approved the roll-out told BBC Panorama he was misled about the risks of the system.

Sir Mike Penning said: “They are endangering people’s lives.

“There are people that are being killed and seriously injured on these roads, and it should never have happened.”

Pressure over the scheme increased in November when the RAC released a survey showing 68% of drivers think removing the hard shoulder puts people whose vehicle breaks down in a live lane at greater risk.

We ... have been completely misled and a poor system has been introduced

John Apter

Research from the AA has found that only 9% of more than 17,000 people questioned feel relaxed or safe driving on a smart motorway.

A spokesman was quoted by the Telegraph as extending Highways England’s sympathies to the family and friends of those killed on its roads.

The Department for Transport said a review into smart motorways announced in October was still ongoing.