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Smart Motorway rollout paused amid government investigation

The government is ‘pausing’ the smart motorway rollout and injecting £900m to ‘ensure drivers feel safe and confident’

smart motorways

THE Department for Transport has confirmed that the smart motorway rollout will be paused until there is five years’ worth of safety data to be investigated.

The statement from DfE confirms that all lane running (ALR) smart motorways introduced before 2020 will be paused until an appropriate amount of safety data becomes available. It goes on to advise that after this, an assessment will be made on the next steps.

Aside from the investigation, the government is also pumping £900 million into the network of ALR roads already in place in the UK. £390 million of that is earmarked for installing 150 additional emergency refuge areas, increasing the number by 50% between now and 2025. The rest is being used to install ‘best-in-class’ tech on the existing ALR roads.

Presumably, the best-in-class tech the government is speaking of is the stopped vehicle detection system that was supposed to be implemented on the ALR roads at inception. The system is supposed to detect a broken down vehicle in any lane of the motorway, allowing that lane to be closed with a red ‘X’ on the overhead gantry. Despite stopped vehicle detection being in place on some of the UK networks, it only became an offence to ignore the warning in October last year.

The move by Grant Schapps to pause the construction of new ALR roads should mean that some of the UK’s busiest motorways will continue to have a hard shoulder – for now, at least. Once the data from the 112-miles of the existing ALR smart motorway network is crunched will be the deciding factor on if the rollout commences.

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