SOME of the country’s most senior traffic police are warning that new smart motorways are ‘causing serious problems for road users’.

Smart motorways allow motorists to drive on the hard shoulder during peak times, using different technologies to vary speed limits, depending on the prevailing driving conditions. There are three types – controlled motorway, all-lane running and hard shoulder running.However, all-lane running not only stops emergency services getting to the site of an accident, but also prevents the police from pulling over drivers who have committed offences. HGV drivers from overseas, unaware of the changes, have also been known to take their breaks in lay-bys that have been set aside for motorists to use in an emergency.
The Metropolitan Police says the decision to drop the hard shoulder has resulted in ‘significant risks’ for motorists.Current plans are for around 480 miles of motorway to lose their hard shoulders as part of the government’s smart motorways scheme, while a transport select committee has also been launched to examine the move further.
The police’s concerns run counter to a recent evaluation of the scheme by Highways England.Last month it published two interim reports evaluating the all-lane running sections on the M25 – J5 to 6 and J23 to 27 – which showed that average journey times had reduced in both directions.
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