A report published by the Office of Road and Rail (ORR) has come out in favour of the claim from National Highways’ Progress Report, that said “in terms of fatality rates, smart motorways are the safest roads in the country”.

The Progress Report was published by National Highways in April 2021, and had concluded that smart motorways – also known as ‘all-lane running’ motorways – are safer than standard motorways, with casualties less likely to occur on ALRs. 

A motorway at night

The ORR report was then commissioned by the Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps to “undertake quality assurance of the data and evidence underpinning the conclusions” of these findings. 

While the ORR report did support the original findings of National Highways, it did acknowledge that there was only a small sample of data currently available.

Mr Shapps commented on the ORR report’s findings, saying: “I welcome the ORR’s review and their conclusion that they found no errors in the underlying calculations, and all the products and processes reviewed are in line with established practice.”

He added: “The report supports National Highway’s findings that smart motorways are the safest roads in the country in terms of fatalities.”

“The ORR’s report contains several recommendations for improvement that will strengthen our understanding of road safety. National Highways has agreed to all its recommendations and developed an action plan in response which is already underway.”

Commenting on the results, Edmund King, AA president, said: “We are pleased that this further analysis of the performance of ‘smart’ motorways has been made public.”

 “The ORR report shows that there was a ‘limited amount of data available’, so it is perhaps difficult to fully evaluate the performance of ‘smart’ motorways, hence it will be essential to have continuous monitoring and evaluation.”

“We believe that controlled motorways with a hard-shoulder are the safest option and for other stretches, installing more emergency laybys on the existing network, in our view, will help improve both safety and driver confidence.”

 “Analysis shows that the forecast benefits have not been realised in some places, resulting in slower journey times, lower speeds and lower levels of economic benefit compared to assumptions.”

“We are pleased that the investigations into the M6 and M1 collision hotspots, which we raised with DfT and National Highways several years ago, have now been completed and action will be taken to help reduce collisions.”

You can read the ORR report to find out more.

What do you think about smart motorways? Tweet us your views to @pcaravan – we’d love to hear from you!

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