Smart motorway deaths: How many people have been killed in the UK?

THE government has halted the rollout of smart motorways across the UK due to growing concerns around safety.

Official figures show there were 38 recorded deaths on Smart Motorways between 2015-2019, with more reported in the years since.

Families and loved ones of those who have died have been campaigning for ministers to urgently address safety on UK motorways.

Now, the government has agreed to pause its plans, saying it will wait until there is five years of safety data for existing stretches of smart motorway.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has also committed £900 million to safety measures.

This includes £390 million to install additional emergency areas.

He said: "While our initial data shows that smart motorways are among the safest roads in the UK, it’s crucial that we go further to ensure people feel safer using them."

Here we explain everything you need to know including what a smart motorway is, why there are safety concerns and the changes to the rollout plans.

Most read in Motors

SMART FARCE

Smart motorways put on hold after they are linked to 24 deaths since 2015

BUS-TED

I was fined for driving through the ‘smallest bus lane in London’

FLASHING LIGHTS

Can I be fined for driving with warning lights on my dashboard?

ON YOUR BIKE

The new highway code hierarchy explained – cyclists get priority over drivers

How many people have died on smart motorways?

It is not clear exactly how many people have died on Smart Motorways and the most recent government figures are from 2019.

At the time, data showed that 38 people had died on Smart Motorways between 2014 and 2019.

However, Labour analysis of Highway England information found that the true figure was far higher, coming in at 63 deaths.

Despite this, the officially reported figure still stands at 38.

Unfortunately, we know the true rate will be higher, as several deaths have been reported since 2019.

What is a smart motorway?

There are three types of smart motorway in the UK:

  • All lane running (ARL)
  • Controlled
  • Dynamic hard shoulder.

ARL means there are sections of motorway that do not have a hard shoulder, instead motorists must rely on Emergency Refuge Areas.

Smart motorways typically use technology to manage the flow of traffic during busy times – for instance, by varying the speed limit.

Dynamic hard shoulder motorways can also increase capacity of the road by opening up the hard shoulder at busy times.

The first smart motorway scheme was used on the M42 in 2006 and there are now more than 236 miles of smart motorways in England. 

Are smart motorways dangerous?

The government has described smart motorways as "among the safest roads in the UK" even as it decides to halt rollout plans due to safety concerns.

There have been at least 38 deaths on smart motorways since their introduction in the UK, although the figure is likely to be higher.

In fact, the fatality rate on so-called smart motorways is up to a third higher than that of conventional highways with hard shoulders, officials figures reveal.

And last year, the Sun revealed that the motorways are considered so dangerous the AA won't let breakdown crews stop on them.

Near-misses on one stretch of the reconfigured M25 outside London rose 20-fold to 1,485 in the five years since the hard shoulder was taken away.

How have government plans around smart motorways changed?

The government says it will pause the planned expansion of smart motorways amid growing safety concerns.

These plans will stay on hold at least until a full five years’ worth of safety data is available for the schemes that were introduced before 2020.

After this point, the government will assess the data and make a decision on next steps.

It also plans to invest £390 million to install more than 150 additional emergency areas so drivers have more places to stop if they get into difficulty.

This will represent around a 50% increase in places to stop by 2025.

A further £510 million in funding will go towards other measures, such as stopped vehicle detection and concrete central reservation barriers.

Finally, National Highways will pause the conversion of dynamic hard shoulder (DHS) motorways – where the hard shoulder is open at busy times – into all lane running motorways.

How to stay safe on a smart motorway

Highways England gives the following advice when driving on a smart motorway:

  • Never drive under a red “X”
  • Keep to the speed limit shown on the gantries
  • A solid white line indicates the hard shoulder – don’t drive in it unless directed
  • A broken white line indicates a normal running lane
  • Use the refuge areas for emergencies if there’s no hard shoulder
  • Put your hazard lights on if you break down

We pay for your stories!

Do you have a story for The Sun Online Money team?

Email us at [email protected]

    Source: Read Full Article