Seven out of ten drivers want hard shoulders again on intelligent highways | UK News

A poll commissioned by the RAC shows most drivers want the shoulders back (Image: PA)

Almost seven in ten motorists want hard shoulders restored on existing smart highways, despite objections about disruption and costs.

Pressure is now mounting on Downing Street to reintroduce emergency lanes after some 14 plans for all new smart motorways across England were canceled.

Research shows that 69% of respondents to a poll commissioned by the RAC said they thought the emergency lane should be restored.

The poll was conducted hours after the government insisted on Monday that such a move would be “too disruptive” and would cost a “significant” amount of money.

Louise Haigh, Labor shadow transport secretary, said intelligent motorways and “inadequate; Security systems are “inappropriate and endanger life”.

She said: “Conservative ministers should reinstate hard shoulders on existing smart highways and undertake remedial and safety work while a comprehensive review of inadequate safety systems and evidence takes place.”

Smart highways use various traffic management methods to increase capacity and reduce congestion in particularly busy areas.

These include converting the hard shoulder into an active lane and variable speed limits.

However, safety concerns have long existed following fatal accidents involving vehicles stopped in live lanes being hit from behind.

However, National Highways insists that the roads are safer than conventional highways.

Simon Williams, spokesman for road safety for the RAC, stressed that it was clear that the government had “completely lost confidence in these types of roads as well”.

“We are pleased that the government has come to the same conclusion that many motorists already have, by canceling future smart freeway programs that would have resulted in dozens more miles of hard shoulder gone forever,” he said he.

“But as things stand there will be 250 miles of dead-end motorway in England by the end of 2023.

“The installation of additional retreat areas and radar technology to detect crashed vehicles is welcome and necessary, but for most drivers this does not go far enough.

“A lot of people thought they were dangerous from the start. Even today, anyone unfortunate enough to break down and be unable to reach an emergency shelter area is at incredible risk where the hard shoulder has been taken out.

‘We continue to believe that restoring the hard shoulder on any stretch of road where it has been converted to a permanent fourth lane is the right thing to do.’

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Justin Scaccy

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