• Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

What Are the New Smart Motorways and Why Are They Being Earmarked for Removal in the North East of England?


Apr 17, 2023 #Motorway

Smart Motorways are highways that use technology to monitor traffic and manage its flow. They have been introduced across various parts of England, with additional plans to implement them further. Yet, controversially, the plans for Smart Motorways in the Northeast of England are now being criticized by a former government minister, as new concerns about their safety arise.

The UK government introduced Smart Motorways in 2006, with the aim of utilizing existing technology to manage motorway traffic and increase capacity. The system utilizes, among other measures, using the hard shoulder or emergency lane as a running lane during periods of congestion, and variable speed limits to regulate traffic flow. On paper, this system seems like an innovative way to enable better traffic flow and increase motorway capacity. However, it has become subject to significant criticism, with claims that the system is dangerous, and is in fact leading to more accidents on Britain’s roads.

One of the recent reports around the use of Smart Motorways comes from Highways England, which is tasked with operating the country’s motorways. Highways England recently admitted that Smart Motorways without a hard shoulder are not as safe as those with a hard shoulder – this is the opposite of the original claimed benefits of the Smart Motorway system. Their admission followed research and analysis conducted by the organization. The study found that controversial all-lane running Smart Motorways saw an average of 1.9 fatal accidents per 100 miles in 2019, compared to 0.9 fatal accidents per 100 miles on conventional motorways with a hard shoulder.

Furthermore, the Smart Motorways in the North East of England are being criticized for falling short of the required standards. In February 2021, the UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps advised that part of the Smart Motorways network that was located in the North East of England would face removal if it did not meet the standards required for improved road care, surface quality, and in addition, safeguarding. The move came as a response to a recently published review that highlighted a number of concerns around Smart Motorway systems, including poor design and construction, inadequate maintenance regimes, and poor GPS coverage.

The Smart Motorway systems in the North East of England are also being criticized by a former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Mike Penning. Penning, who originally granted use of Smart Motorways in England during his tenure, is now calling for further action to tackle the issue of their safety. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program in the UK, Penning claimed that ‘it [Smart Motorways] needs to go’, and that the system was ‘dangerous’.

The concerns raised regarding Smart Motorways in the North East of England have led to further calls for their potential removal across England, sparking major debates between concerned parties. Based on reactions like Penning’s and the government’s threats of removing the Smart Motorways in the North East, only time will determine whether Smart Motorways will continue to feature prominently on England’s motorways – and if they do, to what extent.

By admin