Motorists worried about SMART motorways

JonathanMay 8, 2014

If you have spent any time on the UK's motorways over the last few months, you will know that a number of road networks are now turning into SMART motorways, which obviously sounds great but is leaving many motorists confused and concerned about the changes.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is calling for more information to be given about the new system so that drivers can be prepared once the work is completed.

As part of the SMART changes, the hard shoulder would be open to traffic at certain times in a bid to reduce congestion. However, nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) of motorists say this would make them feel less safe than travelling on a motorway with somewhere for them to stop out of the way if they broke down.

According to IAM research, the biggest concern about the new motorways is the idea to reduce the distance between safety refuges, with 48 per cent of respondents believing that safety refuges should be no more than 500 yards (0.45km) apart. 

Indicating that many drivers are sceptical about most of the changes, some 40 per cent are concerned that new monitoring systems on SMART motorways, such as electronic signs, wouldn't protect them if they had to suddenly stop in a running lane.

However, a lack of information seems to be the route cause of most concerns as two-thirds (67 per cent) of respondents say they haven't seen any publicity about SMART motorways.

On the positive side, 42 per cent of those surveyed thought the new road networks had reduced congestion and 43 per cent of respondents said it has improved their journey times, while a third (32 per cent) would support the legalising of undertaking on SMART motorways.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: "SMART motorways are being rolled out across England but our survey shows that drivers want more reassurance and information on how safe they will be and how to use them.  

"The IAM has been supportive of hard shoulder running but we have always said that the Highways Agency must be quick to learn and implement any real world lessons as more schemes come into use."

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