The installation of new safety equipment on smart motorways will be completed within the next five months, it has been announced.
National Highways has said it will have finished upgrading 95 safety cameras by September – these can automatically detect vehicles that drive under a red X and are “designed to increase compliance”. It will also allow the police to issue fines of £100 to drivers who are guilty of breaching this, even if they don’t catch them in the act.
As it stands, National Highways have upgraded 92 of these enforcement cameras.
There have also been over 330 further signs added to provide drivers with better information about the next place they can stop in case there’s an emergency. By the end of September, National Highways has said “drivers will almost always be able to see a sign informing them of the distance to the next place”, should there be an emergency.
In addition to this, National Highways is set to finish rolling out radar-based technology by the end of September too – this will have the ability to spot either a stationary or broken-down vehicle on more than 200 miles of All Lane Running motorway.
In January, the roll-out of new smart motorways was put on hold for five years, allowing the government to collect safety data from the roads already in operation.
Nick Harris, National Highways’ Chief Executive, said: “Our network is relied upon by an ever-increasing number of people to work, visit family and friends, do business and much more. It is only right that these drivers and their passengers are safe and, crucially, feel safe on our roads, including smart motorways.”
“It is now two years since the Transport Secretary first published the smart motorway stocktake and today’s report shows that we are making good progress delivering on these ambitious recommendations. But we are not complacent.”
“The latest data shows that, overall, in terms of serious or fatal casualties, smart motorways are our safest roads. We are continuing our work to make them our safest roads in every way. We will continue to build on the work already undertaken and continue to put safety first to help ensure drivers have confidence in the motorway network.”
Commenting on the announcement, RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “While good progress is being made in upgrading existing smart motorways by installing stopped vehicle detection technology and more refuge area signage, the key question is whether these changes are enough to reassure drivers, many of whom firmly believe that removing the hard shoulder compromises safety.”
“While the Government is keen to point out that all-lane-running smart motorways tend to have a better overall safety record than conventional motorways, the safety comparisons with other types of smart motorways are less impressive.”
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It is only right that these drivers and their passengers are safe and, crucially, feel safe on our roads, including smart motorways.