Birmingham lawyer says smart motorways should be put on hold to protect lives as the Transport Secretary orders an independent review in to their safety following calls for the roads to be scrapped.
Manjinder Kang, of motoring defence experts Kang and Co Solicitors in Victoria Square, Birmingham, says the hard shoulder should be reinstated immediately on the country’s smart motorways before more lives are unnecessarily lost.
The news comes as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has asked independent watchdog the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to analyse data on deaths and injuries on smart motorways to ensure that safety data around the controversial roads is “robust”.
Smart motorways such as stretches of the M6 and M42 in Birmingham are where there is no hard shoulder as the lane is used to provide an extra lane of traffic. Designed to ease congestion cameras and automated technology is used to monitor traffic and close a lane or reduce the speed of traffic if needed.
However, following a further death on the M1 just days ago, Manjinder is calling for the Government to suspend the use of smart motorways until safety concerns are addressed.
“To continue using these stretches of road while safety concerns still remain and people are still losing their lives is appalling,” says the motoring defence solicitor, who has been involved with a number of high-profile cases involving accidents on smart motorways.
“A review is needed and a clear decision made but while uncertainty remains the only safe thing to do is suspend their use and stop allowing live traffic on to the hard shoulder.”
Manjinder says the roads cause unnecessary risk and continuing to roll out smart motorways while this review is undertaken just puts yet more lives at risk.
He says: “The only way to actually protect lives and make smart motorways safe is to reintroduce the hard shoulder.
“Motorways are dangerous roads anyway and by using the hard shoulder for live traffic it means if someone breaks down they have no where to go, and as we have seen all too often stranded motorists unfortunately find themselves involved in serious high speed collisions.
“The announcement today means that more lives will be lost as yet another review is carried out without actually pausing the roll out of smart motorways while a decision is made. It means people are still using the roads while this concern over safety remains.
“A decision needs to be made and the use of smart motorways needs to be suspended or scrapped while the safety risks around them are properly reviewed. Anything other just means unfortunately more accidents will occur and sadly lives will be lost as smart motorways remain open.”
In March 2020 the Government announced a package of 18 measures, costing £500 million, including the faster roll out of a radar based Stopped Vehicle Detection (SVD) system across the all lane running (ALR) motorways.
A one year on review has now been completed by Highways England, which is set to be unveiled by the summer.
Safety evidence within that report is drawn from 2019 official statistics and the Transport Secretary has commissioned the ORR to carry out an independent review of this safety data following concerns over the safety of the controversial stretches of motorway.