‘All lane running’ schemes have been criticized by the Transport Select Committee, who have voiced concerns over safety

Motorway ‘all lane running’ schemes that open the hard shoulder to moving traffic have been subject to heavy criticism from the Transport Select Committee.

At the top of the committee’s list of concerns is the safety of motorists who break down and would normally use the hard shoulder as a refuge from motorway traffic.

The committee views the scheme as a cost-cutting measure, but says: “The Department for Transport (DfT) should not proceed with a major motorway programme on the basis of cost savings while major safety concerns continue to exist.”

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As part of the ‘smart motorways’ upgrade, the aim of the scheme is to reduce congestion on the increasingly strained road network, by providing a fourth lane in place of the hard shoulder.

Criticisms were also raised about other effects of the plans, with MPs asking where emergency vehicles would go when congestion would otherwise prevent them from getting through.

The committee, which is made up of 11 MPs, from the Labour, Conservative, and Scottish National Parties, reacted strongly to the proposals, describing it as “perverse for the DfT to continually lower the standard of the smart motorway specification, while presenting such changes as a logical next step.”

During the committee’s research, the AA also conducted a survey that found 59% of motorists would be nervous about driving on a motorway without a hard shoulder, and 85% thought hard shoulders helped to make motorways safe.

All lane running schemes are planned to be introduced on around 300 miles of UK motorways, on which the hard shoulder would be permanently converted into a live traffic lane.

The RAC has also responded to the DfT’s proposals, with chief engineer David Bizley saying: "Motorways are our safest roads but, because of the speeds at which vehicles travel on them, the consequences of an accident can be severe in terms of loss of life and serious injury.

"We need the extra capacity that smart motorways will deliver, but we must not put the safety of our motorways at risk by allowing insufficient time to prove the safety of new designs.”

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Comments
7

30 June 2016
I've always thought this was a bad idea, the hard shoulder is an essential safety feature which has always been there for a reason. Yes you don't use them often but when you do need them you are glad they are there. I've had a tyre blowout before and I certainly appreciated the hard shoulder then when I needed to stop suddenly. Congestion is obviously an issue nowadays but surely safety should always be the most important consideration today just as it was when motorways were introduced.

currently a happy owner of a Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin :)

30 June 2016
How far does a car coast at 70mph? Say it's 500 metres, build an escape lane every 500 metres, use the hard shoulder as a smart lane and add it to the driving test that a driver that has a problem should use common sense and coast to the next safe place to stop off the motorway.

30 June 2016
@Phil R - your key phrase of 'common sense' is the issue here. Unfortunately that cannot be turned into a simple Police enforcement policy so it's a bit tricky for the police and CPS to do some real work (unlike a fine for everyone who does 55mph on an empty motorway set a 50mph at 3am...).

 

 

 

30 June 2016
"X points on your license and a £100 fine if you end up stopped on the motorway and the police can't find anything that would cause your car not to coast freely." Seems simple enough to me, and as many people will tell you, i'm often a fairly simple person!

30 June 2016
7. Stopping (270 to 271)

270
You MUST NOT stop on the carriageway, hard shoulder, slip road, central reservation or verge except in an emergency, or when told to do so by the police, HA traffic officers in uniform, an emergency sign or by flashing red light signals. Do not stop on the hard shoulder to either make or receive mobile phone calls.
Laws MT(E&W)R regs 5A, 7, 9, 10 & 16,MT(S)R regs 6(1), 8, 9 & 14, PRA 2002 sect 41 & sched 5(8), & RTA 1988 sects 35 & 163 as amended by TMA 2004, sect 6

30 June 2016
Phil R in theory that's great and yes in an ideal world you wouldnt break down but in practice you can't always coast 500 metres. Imagine your tyre blows out or someone drives into you and your bumper is hanging off or (and this has happened to many people and it's been on watchdog) you are driving along perfectly safely and your bonnet flies open and you can't see a thing in front of you. We need to plan for every eventuality and these things could happen to you or I tomorrow. Being able to stop suddenly on the hard shoulder could then be the difference between safety or being involved in a huge multiple pile up.

currently a happy owner of a Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin :)

30 June 2016
It's also the cheapest mod you can make to justify speed cameras 'for safety reasons' being spread far and wide on the M way network. The lack of an adequate trunk road network in the UK is costing, and has been costing for years, far more than a Brexit vote to UK GDP yet the PM did not stand up and predict financial armageddon if the inadequate road network was not tackled.

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