The rollout of the smart motorway schemes will be paused until a full five years' worth of safety data is available, this is as the Department of Transport invests £900 million to improve safety on existing All Lane Running (ALR) motorways. This will have some impact on our motorways in our counties, including the M27 in Hampshire.
A smart motorway is a section of motorway that uses traffic management methods to increase capacity and reduce congestion. These include using the hard shoulder as running lane and using variable speed limits to control the flow of traffic. It also can be used to minimise environmental impact and cheaper than the cost and time to construct and build additional lanes on existing motorways.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "One of my first actions as Transport Secretary was to order a stocktake of smart motorways and since then, I have worked consistently to raise the bar on their safety. I am grateful to the Transport Committee and to all those who provided evidence for its work.
"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."
The current safety information in terms of fatalities, per mile travelled on a conventional motorway is 0.16 per hundred million vehicle miles, (hmvm) and on the ALR motorways, that figure is 0.12 hmvm. For some comparison, on A-roads that figure is 0.44 hmvm, according to the Department Of Transport figures at present.
While further data is being collected, National Highways will continue work to complete schemes that are currently in construction, which will all open with technology in place to detect stopped vehicles. These schemes are all more than 50% complete and halting progress on them now would cause significant disruption to drivers. Design work will also continue on those schemes already being planned, so they are ready to be constructed depending on the outcome of the pause, however no preparatory construction work will take place.