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Most Licence Check customers concerned about smart motorways, survey finds

Date: 11 November 2021   |   Author: Sean Keywood

More than 80% of Licence Check customers think smart motorways are unsafe or could be improved, a survey carried out by the company has found.

In response to questioning about the roads, where the hard shoulder is either permanently removed or opened to traffic at peak times, 56% of respondents said they felt the roads were not safe, while a further 28% called for improvements. Just 17% thought they were safe.

The UK Parliament Transport Select Committee recently called on the government to pause the rollout of all-lane running smart motorways until five years of safety and economic data on them was available, and safety improvements had been delivered and independently evaluated.

Licence Check general manager Terry Hiles said: "Clearly our customers echo our reservations about the overall safety of smart motorways.

"If you are unlucky enough to break down or be involved in an incident on a smart motorway you are faced with some unappealing choices.

"Where possible, you should attempt to use an emergency refuge area (ERA), which is marked with a large blue sign featuring an orange SOS telephone symbol.

"If you are unable to reach the nearest ERA, you should try to move on to the verge if there is no safety barrier and it is safe to do so. In all cases, switch on your hazard warning lights.

"If you are forced to stop in the nearside lane, exit your vehicle via the nearside and wait behind the safety barrier, if there is one. If it is not possible to get to the nearside lane or exit your vehicle safely, then you should stay in your vehicle with your seat belt on and dial '999' if you have access to a mobile phone.

"When the relevant highways authority becomes aware of a breakdown or an incident on they should switch on a red cross sign on the gantries above the lane you're in to stop traffic from entering it."

Hiles noted that a Department for Transport review has recommended improvements including increased monitoring for stranded vehicles, and more closely-spaced ERAs.

However, he added: "These recommendations are not set to come in for another three years and until then the existing concerns remain."