1. ITV Report

Transport Secretary says smart motorways are safe and announces improvement plan

The Transport Secretary has insisted smart motorways are safe as he announces an action plan to improve them.

A review has found that overall they are as safe as conventional motorways, although not in every way.

Data shows risks that are lower on smart motorways include tailgating, rapid changes of speeds, vehicles drifting off the carriageway and being driven too fast. Although the risk of a collision between a moving and stationary vehicle is higher.

Future changes include scrapping dynamic hard shoulder motorways, making sure there are places to stop within 3/4 of a mile when needed and installing 10 new emergency areas on the existing M25 smart motorway while considering other points nationally.

Highways England will investigate what more can be done on sections of the M6 and M1 where there have been a number of incidents.

£5 million will be spent on campaigns to increase driver awareness of smart motorways and how to use them.

Campaigners in the region who have lost loved ones have called on the government to scrap them.

I’ve been greatly concerned by a number of deaths on smart motorways, and moved by the accounts of families who’ve lost loved ones in these tragic incidents.

I commissioned an urgent stocktake of smart motorways to provide a clearer picture of their safety and make recommendations on next steps. I envisaged it to be swift, but during the course of our investigations a complex picture emerged – which warranted further work.

That work has now concluded and overall, evidence shows that in most ways smart motorways are as safe as or safer than conventional ones.

But I am clear that there is more we can do to raise the bar on smart motorway safety. The extended package of measures I have set out will help rebuild public confidence in our motorway network and ensure that safety is firmly at the heart of the programme.

– Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport