A new web poll on smart motorways from the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, has revealed that the majority of respondents (85 per cent) want a halt on their construction until the safety case is fully proven.
Furthermore, 84 per cent of the 4,500 respondents surveyed had little faith in the current safety systems’ abilities to detect them if they were to breakdown in a running lane and protect them until help arrived.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy & Research, said: “Our members include many high mileage, experienced and confident motorway users but the results of this survey are clear to see, with the vast majority having very little, or no confidence, in the safety of smart motorways.
“We would urge the Department for Transport and Highways England to listen to what smart motorway users are saying and to consider our findings, along with other in-depth research, to determine the best approach to developing the smart motorway network. Delaying decisions on smart motorways will only lead to more drivers getting stressed.
“Alongside more education for drivers, IAM RoadSmart wants to see strong leadership with clear decisions taken soon on whether the programme should be reversed, or provided with the appropriate funding that will speed up delivery of the promised refuges, CCTV and vehicle detection technology.”
Meanwhile, other hard-hitting results from the IAM RoadSmart study found that 81 per cent of motorists felt less safe travelling on a smart motorway compared to a normal one, and 81 per cent agreed that hard shoulders should be immediately reinstated on smart motorways.
More than 80 per cent also wanted safety refuges on smart motorways to be spaced at 500 metres apart or less.
Finally, 40 per cent of drivers found no noticeable improvement in their journey time, with only 4 per cent finding a very noticeable improvement compared to 6 per cent who actually found it worse than before.
“This survey highlights a potentially very serious unintended consequence in that driver reluctance to use smart motorways could create increased traffic on local A and B roads. This would undoubtedly lead to an increased risk of collision and injury with even more delays and driver frustration resulting.” Greig concluded.