A law firm is reportedly threatening legal action if UK regulators fail to fix safety risks on smart motorways.
A report, commission by solicitors and conducted by an engineering firm, concluded that the continued use of “all lanes running” (ALR) on smart motorways results in increased death rates on the road, according to The Sunday Times. This conclusion is in stark contrast to assurances by the government that smart motorways with ALR are vetted and safe.
Approximately 350 miles of UK motorway are ALR sections, says The Sunday Times, with more on the way. ALR signifies that there is no hard shoulder on the roadway, with the entire carriageway open to motorists. In addition, motorists are informed of lane closures and changing speed limits by overhead gallantries.
The authors of the report say ALR sections have the “highest rate of people killed or seriously injured” when compared with other roads. The report points out that the rollout of ALR sections of the motorway may not have taken into consideration the removal of deadly hazards on the road.
Reports that the government failed to properly consider public input in the rollout of smart roadways have surfaced. The Times reported recently that changes to bus stops faced more regulatory scrutiny than the construction of smart motorways.
Additionally, in a recent statement, the Secretary of State for Transport pledged £500million to implement 18 measures to improve the safety of smart motorways in Britain.
The law firm that commissioned the report wants more. The firm says that Highways England and the Department for Transport must cease construction of ALR sections in the works and do something about existing sections – or face legal consequences.
“They must act in accordance with their legal duties and take action to improve safety, or face formal legal action”, human rights lawyer Helen Smith told The Sunday Times.
Smith’s law firm reportedly represents the widow of a man killed on an ALR section of the M1 in 2019. The widow says her husband, who was 22 years old at the time, had pulled over on an ALR section of the motorway after a minor accident; however, the lane was not closed in time and they were hit by a lorry.
A Highways England spokesperson told Sunday Times reporters that the office is reviewing the report.
“Every road death is a tragic loss of life and we are determined to reduce the number of fatal incidents, and injuries, on our roads,” said the spokesperson.
“The Government’s evidence stocktake of the safety of smart motorways analysed a wealth of data and found that in most ways they are as safe as, or safer than, conventional motorways. We are committed to delivering the stocktake actions to further raise the bar on smart motorway safety.”
Advocates tell a different story, however.
“It’s about time the Government and Highways England really took notice of all the evidence and public opinion”, the widow who now campaigns for safer roads told reporters, noting that the report confirmed that “smart motorways are death traps.”
“How many more people have to suffer the heartbreak of losing a loved one or suffer life-changing injuries before action is taken?”
Do you think “all lanes running” sections on smart motorways is dangerous? Tell us in the comment section below.
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