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BBC investigation highlights dangers of smart motorways

Published: 27 January 2020

Updated: 27 January 2020

An investigation by the BBC has shown just how dangerous smart motorways can be. A smart motorway does not have a hard shoulder, instead relying on refuges and the ability to close lanes to traffic electronically.

However, the BBC has found that it takes on average 17 minutes to spot a broken down vehicle and another 17 to get that vehicle off the carriageway. The result is that one section of the M25 has seen 'near misses' rise 20-fold since the hard shoulder was removed.

Despite smart motorways only accounting for a few hundred miles of the UK road network, 38 people have died on them – made all the more shocking when motorways are traditionally our safety roads.

The government will publish a review shortly, which is likely to include steps to make the roads safer, including better car detecting equipment.

Smart motorways were given the green light in 2010, however significant changes were made in the expansion. The pilot scheme had refuges every 600 metres, but in some sections of the expansion they are over two miles apart.

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