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Nobody likes smart motorways, an IAM RoadSmart web poll finds

Anyone surprised? 4500 people answered a web poll on smart motorways, with an overwhelming majority opposed to their use, and feel less safe using one!

Smart Motorway

IAM RoadSmart has recently conducted an online poll about smart motorways, their safety, and whether or not road users really find them any better than traditional motorway systems.

The majority of those who answered have said they feel less safe using one, feel the safety system will not detect them if they break down, and overall want their construction stopped until the safety case is fully proven.

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Out of 4,500 respondents surveyed, the key points were: 

  • 85% want construction halted until the safety is fully proven
  • 84% have little faith in the safety systems spotting them in they break down in a running lane
  • 81% felt less safe travelling on a smart motorway compared to a standard motorway
  • 81% said that hard shoulders should be immediately reinstated on smart motorways
  • 80(+)% want safety refuges spaced at 500 metres or less on smart motorways
  • 40% of drivers found no noticeable improvement in their journey time - 4% found a very noticeable improvement, and 6% actually found it worse than before.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy & Research, said:

“Our members include many high mileage, experienced and confident motorway users but the results of this survey are clear to see, with the vast majority having very little, or no confidence, in the safety of smart motorways.

“We would urge the Department for Transport and Highways England to listen to what smart motorway users are saying and to consider our findings, along with other in-depth research, to determine the best approach to developing the smart motorway network. Delaying decisions on smart motorways will only lead to more drivers getting stressed.

“Alongside more education for drivers, IAM RoadSmart wants to see strong leadership with clear decisions taken soon on whether the programme should be reversed, or provided with the appropriate funding that will speed up delivery of the promised refuges, CCTV and vehicle detection technology.

“This survey highlights a potentially very serious unintended consequence in that driver reluctance to use smart motorways could create increased traffic on local A and B roads. This would undoubtedly lead to an increased risk of collision and injury with even more delays and driver frustration resulting.”

Smart Motorways - not so smart, after all.

Do you have any faith in smart motorways? Or do you see them as needlessly complicated with far more negatives than positives? Perhaps the advert ‘go left’ advert isn’t quite enough. 

The thought is there, but personally, I’m not convinced they really provide any real benefit for the cost of setting them up. I’d be absolutely bricking it if I broke down on the motorway, and had no hard shoulder to get in to!

A red X wouldn’t give me enough faith that I’m safe in what was once an open lane, apparently a third of motorists have no idea what that means.