An independent review into safety data and evidence concerning smart motorways has found no errors and concluded that all-lanes running (ALR) highways are some of the safest roads in the country.
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said the data used in last year’s stocktake and action plan and a progress report relied on by the government and Highways England – now National Highways - to demonstrate the safety credentials of smart motorways, was “used robustly” but that there is currently a lack of long-term data available.
The ORR said this was largely due to the fact that ALR motorways are relatively new.
It has also made recommendations to help strengthen the data and analysis used in the future, to which National Highways has agreed and developed an action plan in response.
The review came after the government came under mounting criticism for its smart motorway policy, which has been blamed for several deaths and collisions on the motorway network.
- DfT and Highways England threatened with “formal legal action” over smart motorways
- Transport secretary orders safety review of smart motorways
- Government refuses to scrap smart motorways but admits launch was too early
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the transport select committee in February it was wrong that smart motorways had been introduced without the right camera technology to make them safe, but he also ruled out scrapping them.
In response to the review, Shapps said: “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.
“This was a thorough undertaking; the ORR drew on its expertise as the monitor of England’s strategic road network.
“The report supports National Highway’s findings that smart motorways are the safest roads in the country in terms of fatalities.”
• National Highways is pressing on with work to convert parts of the M4 into a smart motorway, which it said will provide an additional lane for traffic to increase capacity, reduce congestion and smooth traffic flows. Closures are scheduled throughout September and October.