Smart Motorway Concerns

Smart Motorways‘ / All Lane Running (ALR) and the ‘Die Now‘ system that controls them.

09/2021 Undercover reporter’s experience of a National Highways control room:

    • ‘Pray to whatever God you believe in’: The shocking words of a smart motorway operator to SUSIE COEN when she went undercover at the control centre to gain a glimpse inside the chaos on our roads. Read more here.
    • Smart motorway staff say ‘you’re all going to die’ in secret footageRead more here.

06/2016, the Transport Committee warned that Government:

  • ‘The Department should not proceed with a major motorway programme on the basis of cost savings while major safety concerns continue to exist.’

But they did proceed and people died as a result of this (10/2020 – ‘Judge blames smart motorway for deaths’). 

Highways England is divided into several business units, each with specific responsibility for a particular aspect of its business. These sit within 10 directorates. For instance, within the Major Projects Directorate, there is a business unit responsible for the Smart Motorways Programme (source). What is a smart motorway? Speed cameras, traffic management and hard shoulder use explained by AutoExpress.

  • Russian-Roulette approach to public safety?

“I am not against the idea of Smart Motorways but adopting the process, making the hard shoulder ‘live’ before the public fully understands,  in the absence of proven technology to address stopped vehicles in live lanes and ensuring adequately-sized safe refuges appear frequently, appears naive, reckless.  I also believe the Transport Committee should carefully consider what they have been told about Stopped Vehicle Detection (SVD) over the past years.  There appear to be contradictions and semantics at play.”  Claims Management & Adjusting Ltd.

“I understood if my vehicle breaks down, if possible I should move to the hard shoulder, exit and stand behind the safety barrier, not sit in my car.  Even the hard shoulder was recognised as potentially dangerous.  Without the hard shoulder, what happens if I am unable to make a small refuge situated every 1.5 miles(?) or 2,400 meters … where do I go?  And if the control centre manages to spot me within 17 minutes, how long before assistance arrives?  CMA M.D.

Map of Smart motorways network – (08/2019 copy here). Article ‘Where are they already, and where are they being built‘.

Dates of conversion to smart motorways in excel format: FOI 100298 for ‘Schemes which are currently in construction do not include an open for traffic date’ pdf document here: FOI 100298

  • Have you been involved in an incident on a Smart Motorway?  You are to blame; you are a bad driver. 
  • has your vehicle ever failed an MoT (during your ownership or before)? It is treated prejudicially by Highway England.’ 

01/2020: All Lane Running Inquiry – APPG for Roadside Rescue and Recovery

What are smart motorways and are they dangerous? The BBC explains

01/2022 Smart Motorway Roll-Out Suspended. Read more here.


13/05/2022 Smart motorways are the ‘safest roads’ on the strategic road network (FleetNews)

12/05/2022 Smart motorways with no hard shoulder have worse safety record for crashes involving stopped vehicles than normal M-ways, new figures show as Government continues to insist they are ‘our safest roads’ overall (Daily Mail)

05/04/2022 Roads chief to give evidence at inquest into death of Sheffield grandmother killed on smart motorway (The Star)

04/04/2022 Smart motorways: Highways boss to give inquest evidence (BBC)

01/04/2022 M4 death: Coroner slams smart motorway after dad’s death (Reading Chronicle & Daily Mail).

17/03/2022 M25 Smart Motorway Fails Again Just Days After Deadly Crash (VisorDown) A whistle-blower has lifted the lid on a catalogue of failings with smart motorway network, including one that failed to detect a fatal crash

08/03/2022 Smart motorways kill people but is the technology to blame? (ElectroPages)

03/03/2022 Sheffield: Smart motorway widow campaigns at police HQ (BBC news)

15/02/2022 Smart motorways: Majority of motorists ignore hard shoulder when in use (Fleet News)

03/02/2022 ‘We’re pulling our hair out’: Why even the traffic officers who patrol smart motorways think they are ‘unsafe’ (Manchester Evening News)

01/02/2022 Smart motorways: ‘No manslaughter charge’ over M1 death (BBC) and Fury as police DROP corporate manslaughter charges against National Highways over two fatal crashes on M1 smart motorway due to legal technicality (Daily Mail)

17/01/2022 Smart motorway crash survivor says it’s not enough for Government to pause roll-out of ‘highways to hell’ (

14/01/2022 M6 smart motorway horror crash victim slams Government’s ‘disingenuous gesture’ (Cheshire Live)

13/01/2022 Smart motorways: Reaction to government decision (Insurance Business Magazine)

16/12/2021 Keller director warns of smart motorway dangers after collision with HGV (New Civil Engineer)

24/11/2021 Smart motorways coming to a stop? (World Highways)

22/11/2021 National Highways postpone M3 smart motorway work Winchester (Hampshire Chronical)

17/11/2021 What are smart motorways, and are they safe? (Lexology)

10/11/2021 Under-construction smart motorways will be fitted with extra refuge areas (New Civil Engineer)

07/11/2021 Smart Motorways Kill founder Claire Mercer speaks out on why government roll out must be stopped (World Socialist Web Site)

04/11/2021 National Highways cannot act independently on the smart motorway concerns raised by MPs this week, CEO Nick Harris has conceded (Highways Magazine).

04/11/2021 Minister rejects calls to reverse scrapping of hard shoulders on smart motorways (Metro)

04/11/2021 MPs recommend all-lane running ‘pause’ on UK motorways. The Transport Select Committee says the Department for Transport has failed to deliver the promised safety improvements (Motor1)

03/11/2021 Increase number of emergency refuges on smart motorways, says The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) – (FleetNews)

02/11/2021 Promises over ‘Smart Motorway’ safety were ‘broken’, say MPs (Politics):

  • Smart motorways: Transport Committee calls for emergency corridor manoeuvre. Transport committee also wants more emergency refuge areas retrofitted and for stopped vehicle detection technology to be evaluated (AutoExpress)
  • Halt smart motorway projects until safety upgrades are made, say MPs (Guardian).
  • Call for five-year delay in all-lane smart motorways (BBC News).
  • All lane running gets red X from MPs (Transport Network)
  • MPs call for halt to smart motorway projects (Fleet News)
  • Entire smart motorway programme must be paused, transport committee says (New Civil Engineer)

26/10/2021 Smart motorway deaths: Coffins protest planned (BBC)

06/10/2021 Highways bosses left ‘potentially dangerous’ fault on M62 smart motorway broken for weeks (Manchester Evening News)

01/10/2021 M25 smart motorways: Traffic cameras in part of M25 where 6 people have died ‘not working’, investigation claims (source)

30/09/2021 Most drivers want hard shoulder back on smart motorways. The RAC has called on the Government to consider reinstating hard shoulders on motorways. (FleetNews).

27/09/2021 Boris Johnson orders proper inquiry into smart motorways after probe reveals lethal failings and flaws in critical radar system (source)

27/09/2021 Exposed: The lethal flaws in smart motorways radar system that put YOU in danger (Mail on Line).

27/09/2021 Damning figures that prove smart motorways cost MORE lives (Mail on Line)

27/09/2021 One in 10 smart motorway CCTV cameras ‘not working’ Evening Standard

15/09/2021 ‘Death trap highways’: New smart motorway safety works will still leave motorists in danger, campaigners say (Independent)

13/09/2021 A South Yorkshire police commissioner has claimed that National Highways’ commitment to add an additional emergency refuge area (ERA) to a dangerous stretch of the M1 does not “adequately address” concerns about the stretch of road. (New Civil Engineer)

13/09/2021 (Not so) smart motorway: ‘Dynamic hard shoulder’ on M1 that was meant to bring £1bn financial boost actually INCREASES congestion and will harm economy by £200m (Mail on Line)

09/09/2021 No hard shoulder will be installed on the “smart motorway” strech of the M1 in South Yorkshire – despite the number of fatal collisions increasing since it was implemented. (The Star)

07/09/2021 publishing of the Office of Road & Rail quality assurance of all lane running motorway data report – 210628 ORR data ‘New report verifies that all-lane running smart motorways are safest roads in UK’ (Traffic Technology Today)

02/09/2021 Smart motorway tech failures raise further safety concerns (New Civil Engineer)

30/08/2021 Majority feel unsafe on smart motorways (epaper/The Times)

28/08/2021 The ‘Die Now’ computer systems controlling signs on smart motorways has itself crashed multiple time (MSN/Telegraph)

28/07/2021 What’s changing in the Highway Code? Drivers get guidance on smart motorways (Simply Business)

01/07/2021 Smart motorway safety cameras took two years after first recommendation to be rolled out (Express)

01/07/2021 ‘Hundreds of millions’ to be spent retrofitting safety areas on smart motorways (New Civil Engineer). “Hundreds of millions of pounds” could be spent retrofitting existing smart motorways with emergency refuge areas (ERAs), the Commons transport select committee inquiry into the roads heard yesterday.

30/06/2021 More work needed to convince drivers over safety of smart motorways – minister (Yahoo).

21/06/2021 The Highway Code WILL be updated to include section on smart motorways some 15 years after the first one was introduced in Britain (This is Money)

18/06/2021 Smart motorway designers should be ‘compelled’ to make roads safer warns expert (Express)

15/06/2021 Smart motorway changes: Highways England confirm they will ‘accelerate measures’ (Express)

14/06/2021 A retired vicar’s threat of legal action has stymied proposals for 19 miles of smart motorway and raised new doubts over the future of the scheme (Times). Mr Coleman writes ‘I want to ensure Highways England take climate change seriously and to get them to think again about building ‘Smart’ Motorways’.  Read more @ Crowd Justice.

12/06/2021 MBE for DMU academic whose son’s tragic death spurred on her campaign to make smart motorways safer (De Montfort University)

22/05/2021 ‘If there’d been a hard shoulder, I’d still have my mum’: are smart motorways safe? (Guardian).

20/05/2021 ‘You are still at risk’ AA in chilling warning smart motorways NOT designed for safety (Express).

19/05/2021 Inquiry to hear evidence from motoring groups on the safety of smart motorways (source ITV)

19/05/2021 Govt under pressure over smart motorway reports (Highways Magazine)

17/05/2021 South Yorkshire Police investigate Highways England for corporate manslaughter (New Civil Engineer)

14/05/2021 Highways England could face corporate manslaughter charges following smart motorway deaths (source ITV).

14/05/2021 Comment: Smart motorways – where are we now? (source FleetWorld).

07/05/2021 Are smart motorways dangerous? New figures cast doubt on Government safety claims. Data shows rise in number of deaths on controversial roads (Burnley Express).

06/05/2021 Smart motorway CO2 rise even worse than forecast (Transport Network)

04/05/2021 All lane running smart motorways now more lethal, data shows (source Highways Magazine)

01/05/2021 Highways England boss snubs smart motorway widow (source Telegraph).  Nick Harris, acting CEO at the Authority was to provide face to face condolences to Mrs Mercer but cancelled last minute citing ‘legal advice’.

26/04/2021 Smart motorway cameras faulty or poorly placed, says ex-worker (source The Times).

25/04/2021 ‘The road killed them all’: Inside the fight to have smart motorways abolished. Dozens of drivers have died on roads without hard shoulders over last six years – now campaigners will ask a High Court judge to scrap the network once and for all  (source The Independent).

24/04/2021 Highways chiefs warned over ‘life threatening’ risks on smart motorways before 8 deaths (source Mirror)

22/04/2021 Highways England doubles down on smart motorway safety (source Honest John)

22/04/2021 Just how smart can the four-lane motorway be? (source Express & Star)

22/04/2021 DfT announces smart motorway changes (source Intelligent Transport)

21/04/2021 South Yorkshire MP slams Highways England report on smart motorways (source The Star)

21/04/2021 210415 letter-to-ORR-from-the-secretary-of-state-quality-assure-ALR-data

20/04/2021 Written statement to Parliament – Highways England first year progress report on smart motorways stocktake & Measures to boost safety on All Lane Running motorways accelerated

20/04/2021 No new smart motorways without additional safety measures (source BBC)

20/04/2021 Returning hard shoulders to smart motorways would cause more deaths, Highways England claims (source New Civil Engineer)

19/04/2021 Highways England backtracks on SVD spacing (source Highways Magazine)

16/04/2021 Smart motorways: Widow campaigns for system to be scrapped after husband killed on road with no hard shoulder (source ITV). Derek Jacobs van blew a tyre, he got out the passenger side, and before he could get to the barrier, a car hit his van, crushing it on to him it is assumed.

16/04/2021 Police figures contest smart motorway safety in inquiry evidence (New Civil Engineer)

12/04/2021 Smart motorways: Bereaved wife fighting to stop others suffering (source LBC)

11/04/2021 Scrapping the hard shoulder on so-called ‘smart’ motorways causes chaos for emergency services trying to reach crash scenes, Highways England files reveal (source Mail)

09/04/2021 Vast majority of motorists think smart motorways should be halted until Highways England can prove they are safe, survey finds (source Yorkshire Post)

08/04/2021 ‘No confidence in the safety of smart motorways’: Drivers demand schemes end (source Express)

07/04/2021 Highways England threatened with legal action over smart motorways (source ITV and MotorTransport)

06/04/2021 Widow condemns ‘smart motorways’ as ‘death traps’ after report finds modified roads have higher breakdown risk (source

02/04/2021 M27 smart motorway scheme delayed by up to six months (source Southern Daily Echo).

31/03/2021 Lawyers call for Highways England to halt use of smart motorways as report claims they ‘reduce safety to cut costs (source Yorkshire Post).

29/03/2021 Majority of refuge areas on stretch of M1 smart motorway shorter than advised length (source New Civil Engineer)

26/03/2021 Former Highways England employee says staffing is ‘woefully short’ amid smart motorway controversy (source ITV).

23/03/2021 Government under fire as smart motorway death rates rise (source Business Car)

23/03/2021 Report suggests smart motorway tech fails to detect 15% of stationary vehicles, as Highways England admits to errors (source AutoCar).

22/03/2021 Smart motorway radars fail to spot broken down cars. Ministers faced calls last night to suspend the smart motorways programme as it emerged that new safety technology installed to detect broken down cars may fail to spot at least one stranded vehicle in seven.  Trials of the much-hyped radar system showed that some vehicles were not picked up when stationary on the motorway because of “blind spots” and shadows caused by obstacles.

12/03/2021 Smart Motorway Safety Volume 673: debated Smart Motorway Safety 2020-03-12 Smart Motorway Safety report smart-motorway-safety-evidence-stocktake-and-action-plan

12/03/2021 Highways England’s smart motorway safety campaign labelled ‘insensitive’ by police chief (source New Civil Engineer)

11/03/2021 Widow’s anger over ‘silly’ smart motorway safety advert (source Fife Times).

10/03/2021 ‘Go Left’ – Highways England launches biggest ever motorway safety campaign (source Gov.UK) at a cost of about £5million (source AutoCar)

08/03/2021 Smart motorway ‘contributed’ to teen’s death in M1 horror crash near Junction 11a, inquest hears (source Luton Today)

08/03/2021 Millions spent by Highways England in bid to educate public (source New Civil Engineer)

08/03/2021 South Yorkshire police boss continues to raise concerns over ‘danger’ of smart motorways (source The Star)

07/03/2021 Coroner issues latest smart motorways warning after teenager who died in M1 crash became fifth fatality in two years (source Mail on Line)

06/03/2021 My son died on a smart motorway – they need to be made safer or more will die (source The Sun)

04/03/2021 ‘Lives at risk’ from slow Red X camera roll-out (source Transport Network); Only half of the cameras capable of enforcing violations of lane closures on smart motorways are fully operational, a year and a half after a change in the law made it possible for camera evidence to be used for prosecutions.

03/03/2021 South Yorkshire police boss promises ‘careful consideration’ of corporate manslaughter prosecution after smart motorway deaths (source The Star)

02/03/2021 Widow demands police probe into Highways England over smart motorway death (source Shropshire Star), protests Sheffield police HQ (source BBC) and urges prosecution of Highways England (source Police Professional).

02/03/2021 Highway Code set for smart motorway update (source Transport Network)

01/03/2021 Review of The Highway Code to improve safety on motorways and high-speed roads

01/03/2021 Highways England referred to CPS for smart motorway fatality (source Fleet World)

26/02/2021 MPs investigate ditching smart motorways (source BBC) and article by AutoExpress.

22/02/2021 Road chiefs back new ‘death trap’ smart motorway (Source Daily Mail)

21/02/2021 ‘Smart motorway’ death toll hits record high (source Daily Mail).  The report refers to the information being ‘held back’, with the Times reporting on the issue ‘Figures for fatalities on controversial highways held back by transport chiefs’.  Transport Network reports here.

Calls to scrap smart motorways grow louder as deaths hit record (source Daily Telegraph)

17/02/2021 ‘Abandon smart motorways’, says South Yorkshire PCC (source BBC)

16/02/2021 (Kent’s) Police commissioner calls for review of year-old smart motorway (source Construction News )

15/02/2021 Highways England’s barrister Nicholas Chapman who said that the company has “no duty of care to motorists” and had no reason to monitor traffic for stranded vehicles (source The Construction Index)

15/02/2021 Smart motorway deaths: South Yorkshire Police to review coroner’s files (source BBC)

05/02/2021 Smart motorway rollout was ‘entirely wrong’, transport secretary tells MPs (source Metro).

04/02/2021 Smart motorways are NOT such a clever idea but we are stuck with them, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps admits (source Daily Mail)

03/20/2021 Shapps admits error over smart motorway safety (source Transport Network)

26/01/2021 Public opposition mounts against smart motorways (source New Civil Engineer)

25/01/2021 Are Highways England addressing smart motorway safety concerns? (source FleetPoint)

24/01/2021 South Yorkshire PCC urges Transport Secretary to scrap smart motorways (source PlanetRadio) & ‘Smart motorways are dangerous, says Yorkshire police chief’ (source BBC). ‘Smart’ motorways are ‘inherently unsafe’ and ‘should be abandoned’ to save lives, Yorkshire police chief says (source Daily Mail)

22/01/2021 ‘Landmark victory for Smart Motorways Kill campaign’ as coroner rules Jason Mercer and Alexandru Murgeanu were unlawfully killed (source WSWS)

21/01/2021 ‘I will sue’ if Highways England do not bring back hard shoulders to ‘death trap’ smart motorways, says widow of Rotherham man killed on M1 (source Yorkshire Post)

21/01/2021 Smart motorways are ‘death traps’ as lawyer calls for roads to close with immediate effect (source Express).

21/01/2021 Safety measures on smart motorways will be fast-tracked after road bosses were ordered to ramp up the rollout. Highways England officials have been told by roads minister Baroness Vere to devise a blueprint to fast-track the installation of life-saving measures on the controversial roads and submit it by this weekend – ahead of crisis talks with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Monday (Source Daily Mail).

21/01/2021 How WERE we all driven down the one-way road to disaster on smart motorways? (source Mail OnLine)

20/01/2021 Less than 5% of England’s 500-mile smart motorway network has breakdown-detecting radar technology (source The Independent)

19/01/2021 Highways England ‘considering findings’ of CCTV stopped vehicle trial (source Highways Magazine)

15/01/2021 Further action needed on smart motorways, says RAC (source FleetWorld)

05/01/2021 Highways England may face manslaughter charges over smart motorway death (source  Coroner Nicola Mundy is considering whether to refer the roads operator to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over the death of Nargis Begum, who died on the M1 in South Yorkshire in September 2018.  The court case – which took place in December – was adjourned until 11 February to allow government lawyers time to prepare a response.

01/01/2021 Smart Motorways are blamed for a surge in speeding fines as figures reveal new ‘stealth cameras’ are behind 10 per cent of police penalties (source Daily Mail)

30/12/2020 New smart motorway safety tools to be installed on major road within weeks (source Express)

23/12/2020 Smart motorways will be called into question – What seems likely is that, at some point in the near future, a test case will be brought, and Britain’s smart motorways will have their day in court (source Clyde & Co)

21/12/2020 Highways England could face a manslaughter charge over the death of a 62-year-old woman who was killed on a stretch of smart motorway with no hard shoulder, it was revealed yesterday. A coroner said she would decide whether to refer Highways England to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The state-owned company, which operates motorways and A-roads in England, may have a case to answer for corporate manslaughter or gross negligence manslaughter, she said (Source Daily Mail).

19/12/2020 Motorists whose cars break down on a live lane of a smart motorway will not be spotted by specialist radar on 95 per cent of the network because only 23.86 miles of carriageway has the technology, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal. For the last nine months, Highways England has failed to switch on any new ‘Stopped Vehicle Detection’ (SVD) systems that use radio waves to spot a stationary vehicle and alert control room staff of the emergency within 20 seconds (source Telegraph)

23/11/2020 New smart motorway will cost taxpayers £1.2billion but roads will not follow safety advice – some schemes will only fit emergency lay-bys every mile and a half (Source Express)

18/11/2020 Devastated families of two people killed in separate crashes on M1 ‘smart’ motorway join forces in legal battle to have them scrapped (Source Mail on Line).

09/11/2020 Nine further sections of new all-lane running (ALR) smart motorways have been approved despite widespread safety reservations, reports suggest (source AutoCar)

08/11/2020 Over 130 miles of new ‘death trap’ smart motorways without hard shoulders get the green light despite 44 fatalities in the past five years (source Daily Mail)

28/10/2020 Less than half (48%) of UK motorists know the rules for using smart motorways, a new survey suggests (source Central Fife Times).

20/10/2020 ‘Smart motorway’ death: Widow of man killed when lorry ploughed into his stationary car says the ‘wrong person’ was jailed.  The judge said the victims would not have died had there been a hard shoulder, which he compared to life boats on ships (source Sky News).

19/10/2020 Judge blames smart motorway for deaths of two men who were killed when lorry ploughed into stranded car and says tragedy ‘would not have happened if there’d been a hard shoulder’ as HGV driver is jailed for 10 months (source ‘This is Money‘).

13/10/2020 Worcester drivers voice concerns over ‘smart’ motorways; ‘I was nearly killed’ – Man left in tears after breaking down on M5 (source Worcester News)

Drivers pay between £150 and £300 if car is recovered (source Sunday Times).

12/09/2020 13 changes being made to Smart Motorways on M1 and M62 including new rules, stopping areas and cameras (source Yorkshire Post)

03/09/2020 The highways monitor for the English strategic road network (SRN) does not have a single member of staff whose job is focused solely on road safety (source Highways).

22/08/2020 The roads boss who oversaw the building of ‘death trap’ smart motorways is to quit his £456,000-a-year job. Jim O’Sullivan’s exit from Highways England (HE) was announced just three hours after the quango confirmed a series of safety improvements to the controversial routes. Despite initially blaming most crashes on reckless drivers, he later admitted deaths had occurred because of delays to radar technology that can spot vehicles stranded in ‘live’ lanes. (source Daily Mail)

21/08/2020 Ministers plan SEVEN new smart motorways despite concerns over their safety (source Daily Mail).

02/08/2020 Student slams dangerous so-called ‘smart’ motorways after horror crash killed his friend and left three others seriously injured. ‘His words come as it was revealed earlier this month that smart motorways have led to a rise in serious accidents – with one stretch going from one crash a year to six after the hard shoulder was removed’ (source Mail On-Line). 

31/07/2020 ORR lets Highways England off the hook on safety pledge (source HighwaysMagazine).  The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has said no action will be taken against Highways England despite the Government-owned company failing to meet a key safety commitment.

15/07/2020 Serious crashes on smart motorways continue to pile up, Highways England data reveals (Source RAC).

14/07/2020 Smart motorways have led to a RISE in serious crashes, Highways England data reveals with one stretch going from single crash in a year to SIX after hard shoulder was removed (source Daily Mail).

11/07/2020 Highways England accused of failing to consider perils faced by disabled people during breakdown.  Disability campaigners are backing a legal challenge claiming motorways without hard shoulders breach the Equality Act (source Telegraph). 

07/07/2020 Man charged over Sheffield M1 smart motorway deaths – Jason Mercer, 44, and 22-year-old Alexandru Murgeanu, from Mansfield, died in the collision on the M1 near Sheffield in June last year.  Prezemyslaw Zbigniew Szuba, 40, of Hull has been charged with two counts of causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving (Source – BBC)

06/07/2020 Recently upgraded smart motorways report ‘concerning’ rise in serious collisions (source New Civil Engineer).  Safety evaluations of recently completed smart motorways highlight a “concerning” rise in serious collisions after upgrade work was finished, according to motorists’ body the RAC

04/2020 Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, disappointed as stopped vehicle detection tech on M20 smart motorway could take three years (source KentOnLine).

28/03/2020 Former traffic officer calls for Highways England to be prosecuted after court hears smart motorways may have led to deaths (source Telegraph). 

24/03/2020 Transport secretary responds to council leader’s smart motorways concerns (source Warrington Guardian)

23/03/2020 Highways England begins search for stopped vehicle detection system (source UK Authority).  Years into the Smart Motorway project and the Authority is only now seeking a system – Supplies – 134525-2020.  This development is also reported by Highways Magazine

21/03/2020 Ex-police traffic sergeant calls for end to ‘killer’ smart motorways that leave people ‘dangerously stranded’ (source EssexLive).

19/03/2020 CCTV video analytics trial to improve safety and response times of smart motorways (source IFsEC Global)

13/03/2020 Highways England is significantly off track against its key 2015-2020 road safety target, according to data obtained by Transport Network (source TransportNetwork)

13/03/2020 Coventry’s M6 smart motorway to open after Government green light (source Coventry Live)

12/03/2020 Grant Shapps ‘Overall, what the evidence shows is that in most ways, smart motorways are as safe as, or safer than, the conventional ones. But not in every way.’ (source TheyWorkForYou)

12/03/2020 Government releases smart motorway action plan (source Highways).

12/03/2020 Dynamic smart motorways axed – Review into smart motorways results in dynamic hard shoulders being scrapped in favour of permanent all-lane running roads (source – AutoExpress).

10/03/2020 Cameras that spot broken down cars on smart motorways aren’t monitored all of the time, Highways England bosses admits (source Daily Mail).

01/03/2020 Smart motorways make traffic jams WORSE after a road crash, newly-released data shows (source The Mail online)

19/02/2020 Claire Mercer speaks on the campaign to abolish UK smart motorways – Part 1 (source WSWS) and Part 2 (source WSWS)

16/02/2020 Fears over smart motorways after mother stops on motorway to give birth (source Telegraph). Note, this is what it comes to … taking matters into your own hands and hoping that other rad users have more consideration for you that Highways England: 

A quick thinking lorry driver put on his hazard lights and shielded their car from traffic before the couple’s baby, called Harry, was born.

13/02/2020 Hansard – ‘To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the safety of smart motorways and what plans they have to review their policy towards them.’ (source Hansard & copy)

09/02/2020 Car fury: Outrage at £100 courses promoting death-trap smart motorways (source Express).

06/02/2020 Construction of the M23 smart motorway near to London Gatwick Airport will continue this month, despite an ongoing government review into the safety of all-lane running scheme (source New Civil Engineer).

04/02/2020 Motorway bosses reportedly rejected plans to build more lay-bys on a smart motorway where two people have lost their lives because of budget concerns, The Times reports. (source Yahoo News UK)

02/02/2020 ‘Smart motorways – our current position’ (source Premier Construction News) – copy here

02/02/2020 Highways England’s decision to persist with its smart motorway networks means some court action may be taken which could see the scheme completely halted, claimed the lawyer (source Express).

01/02/2020 Daughter of woman killed on smart motorway accuses Highways England of being responsible for her death (source Telegraph).

31/01/2020 The roll-out of smart motorways has been put on hold due to safety concerns, transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced (source Highways Magazine).

29/01/2020 Highways England releases statements to the media in relation to recent commentary about smart motorways – read more here (on this site here).

29/10/2020 Transport chiefs knew a plan to introduce smart motorways was likely to cost lives, an internal report has revealed (source Telegraph).

28/01/2020 Highways England is still sending much-criticised warning letters to drivers who illegally drive under red X signs on smart motorways, six months after a change in the law allowed camera evidence to be used for prosecutions (source Transport Network).

27/01/2020 Highways England’s smart motorways policy killed drivers, says ex-minister. Mike Penning, who was roads minister in 2010, spoke out as he and fellow MPs published a damning report on the motorways, which allow motorists to drive on the hard shoulder to increase capacity (source The Guardian).

27/01/2020 M25: In the 5 years before the road was converted into a smart motorway, there were just 72 near misses*. In the five years after, there were 1,485 (source Highways Magazine).

*A “near miss” is described as an incident with ‘the potential to cause injury or ill-health’.

26/01/2020 Thirty-eight people have been killed on smart motorways in the last five years, the government has told BBC Panorama .  An all-party group of MPs, led by Sir Mike, will publish a report on Monday that accuses Highways England of “a shocking degree of carelessness” (source – BBC).

25/01/2020 Lay-bys cut on smart motorways to save cash. Documents seen by The Times show that “rationalising” refuge areas on motorways without a hard shoulder would ensure “savings” on the project.  Department for Transport officials questioned whether greater spacing between lay-bys could lead to a corporate manslaughter charge if a motorist were killed (source The Times).

23/01/2020. How can drivers trust ‘smart’ motorways? (source TransportFocus).

22/01/2020 Rotheram MP  calls for end of ‘smart motorways’.  Sarah Champion said “it is totally unacceptable to risk lives in the name of cost savings” (source BBC). 

22/01/2020 The transport secretary is finalising ‘a serious package of measures’ to tackle concerns over the safety of smart motorways, MPs have been told (source Transport Network).

20/01/2020 Did HE’s failure to take advice lead to motorway deaths? source and more – Clean Highways

Highways England was formed in April 2015. Their License from the DfT specified that they must establish a stakeholder advisory panel and ensure that the membership included environment and safety groups . Their failure to do so is detailed at Highways England’s non-compliant Stakeholder Advisory panel.  One can only speculate that if they had received advice on safety via a properly constituted panel the recent tragedies may have been mitigated.

19/01/2020 The AA deems smart motorways so dangerous that it will not let its breakdown crews stop in them to help stranded motorists. (source – Daily Mail).

19/01/2020 Technology designed by Highways England to detect broken-down vehicles on smart motorways stops working in “moderate to heavy” traffic, according to its own chief engineer (source Sunday Times).

18/01/2020 Smart Motorway death on the southbound M1 near Luton where the hard shoulder was opened to traffic. Student, Zahid Ahmed, 19, died when the people carrier he was in came to a “stop” but did not reach an emergency refuge area before a lorry hit it (source – Telegraph).

11/01/2020 ‘A police commissioner has expressed his astonishment at Highways England’s refusal to accept smart motorways can be dangerous despite bosses conceding how removing hard shoulders means emergency vehicles can take longer to reach crashes (source – The Telegraph) .

09/01/2020 SMART motorway networks may get radical upgrades in 2020 as Highways England could be set to build more emergency lay-bys for broken down cars. The plans will reduce the space between the refuge areas from below the current 1 mile spacing in an attempt to boost road safety.  It appears this is now an accepted requirement.  Read more here

20/12/2019 FoIA response to a request for ‘Smart Motorways Too Confusing for People to Use‘ – pdf version available here – 191220 FOI 100446 Smart Motorways

  • 18/12/2019 Highways England still refusing to release evidence over safety of smart motorways. Nottinghamshire Live asked for this information to be provided under a Freedom of Information request but were told it would not be disclosed, because the “information is intended for future publication” read more here.

16/12/2019  FoIA response to a request ‘Concerning Transport Select Committee Yesterday‘ made 24/10/2019 – pdf version available here – FOI 100445 breakdowns

  • A further ‘Transport Committee Hearing’ request regarding Stopped Vehicle Detection (SVD, appears on the WDTK site – read more here.  The request is subject to an exemption/review (as at 13/12/2019).

16/12/2019 FoIA response to a request for ‘Smart Motorway Features‘ – pdf version available here – 191216 smart motorways FOI 100546

03/12/2019 Foia response to a request for ‘Smart Motorway Costs and Supervision‘ – pdf version available here 191203 Smart Motorways FOI 100315 Response

16/11/2019 A woman whose husband was killed after becoming stranded on a smart motorway warned Highways England more people could die just months before a child perished at the same spot (source: Telegraph):

  • Badra Ahmed pleaded with Highways England bosses to stop turning hard shoulders into ‘live lanes’ after her husband’s inquest heard he had “nowhere to go” when his vehicle broke down on the M6.
  • a coroner’s report calling for urgent action after Jamil Ahmed’s death was not submitted to Highways England until 21 months after it was promised.
  • Mr Ahmed, 36, a recovery driver stopped on the ‘live’ hard shoulder when his vehicle was hit by a lorry in August 2017 killing him instantly

14/11/2019. As hard-shoulders are removed, motorway breakdowns in England hit five-year high to total more than 200,000 (source: Express).

11/11/2019. Watchdog tells Highways England to up its game on safety

08/11/2019. Motorways must have lay-bys every 1000 metres and wider lanes expert claims (source: Express).

07/11/2019. Smart motorways – outstanding roads or seriously in need of improvement? (source: Clyde & Co)

When your vehicle has issues on a motorway, you look for the safety of the hard shoulder….Since the implementation of smart motorways, this lane has become a live lane and if the unforeseen happens, you are stranded in what is now a death trap and also delaying emergency vehicles attending an incident.”  source

28/10/2019. The chair of the House of Commons’ transport select committee Lillian Greenwood has ordered Highways England to reveal the safety and cost data for its smart motorways projects – read more here.

25/10/2019. Smart motorway review launched as Transport Secretary knows ‘people are dying’ on the road (source: Express).

25/10/2019. ‘Highways England had no system for automatic alerts to a stationary vehicle in a lane’. (Source: Examiner Live).

25/10/2019. ‘The BBC reports that Mr. Shapps was speaking to MPs on the Commons Transport Select Committee about the matter, he said. “I have asked my department to carry out at pace an evidence stock-take to gather the facts quickly and make recommendations.”  Mr. Schapps department is to lead the review “because some of the statistics have been difficult to understand, and we know people are dying on smart motorways”. (source: VisorDown).

24/10/2019. What are smart motorways? How they work, and why Highways England says they are ‘too complicated’.  A guide to the controversial roads, how to use them, stay safe and avoid fines from inews

19/10/2019. Bad drivers to blame for crashes on smart motorways, says Highways England’s CEO, Jim O’Sullivan.  He told The Times that reckless actions by drivers, including stopping on “live” vehicle lanes without good reason, was one of the main causes of crashes on motorways, not the design of the road. (source: The Times). 

  • Really?  Have driver’s only just started doing this … and where are they to go without a hard shoulder?
  • Only a few weeks ago Jim was struggling to understand the press.
  • Why has the Authority removed the hard shoulder when demand for it is at its highest …a ‘perfect storm’?

18/10/2019: Highways England responds to concerns ambulances are getting stuck on smart motorways after crashes (source SomersetLive). 

13/10/2019: The Indian parents of an 8-year-old boy killed on a ‘Smart Motorway’ are calling for a review of the highways system. Dev Naran was killed in a 2018 collision between a car and a truck on the M6, Birmingham.  At an inquest, West Midlands area coroner Emma Brown warned lives are at risk and called on Highways England to explore ways of helping stranded passengers. (source: The Times of India – UK ‘The Telegraph‘ ‘ITV Hub‘)

12/10/2019: Coroner demands safety reviews after M4 minibus crash deaths. t was revealed during an inquest on Wednesday, October 9, and Thursday, October 10, Highways England had closed a section of the hard shoulder to repair barriers the day before the crash. (source: Berkshire Live).

10/10/2019 FoIA response – Stopped Vehicle Detection (SVD)  in use on the ‘smart’ section of the M1 between junction 28 and 35a – there is none – 191000 FOI 100318 response re stopped vehicle detection

10/10/2019: Dozens of drivers a day stranded on smart motorways.

Research by Highways England has shown that 19,316 vehicles stopped in flowing traffic on motorway “live lanes” in 2017 and last year, equivalent to more than 26 a day. In another 28,547 breakdowns drivers were able to make it from the smart motorway lanes to an emergency lay-by, verge or hatched area near a junction, according to a report to MPs. (source The Times)

The report added to concerns over safety on smart motorways in England, where the hard shoulder is removed to boost capacity and emergency refuge areas are built up to 1.5 miles apart. Lanes are closed with a red X on an overhead…

09/09/2019: Smart motorways put thousands of lives at risk by getting rid of hard shoulder, new figures show.  Thousands of drivers have had their lives endangered after breaking down on ‘smart motorways’, the boss of Highways England admitted yesterday. (source: dailymail)

07/10/2019: ‘According to Highways England’s own analysis, stopping in a live lane more than triples the danger when compared to a traditional motorway with a continuous hard shoulder.’ Source – Somerset Live

30/09/2019 : Motorway deaths hit 107 in 2018, up from a year ago as concerns continue to rise over the safety of smart motorway networks. Source – Express

26/09/2019: The number of people being killed or seriously injured (KSI) on the roads is on the rise according to official statistics, as road safety continues to stall.

Motorways saw the largest increase in road deaths, rising by 8% since 2017 to reach 107 deaths in 2018 – figures Highways England described as ‘very concerning’. Read more …

18/09/2019 – UK’s Smart Motorways ‘Dangerous’ After Government ‘Moved the Goalposts’ AA President

Edmund King, President of the AA, said: “The first smart motorway was the M42 in the West Midlands where the laybys were between 400 and 600 metres apart and the gantries about the same distance. You could literally see the next layby and even if you had a flat tyre or smoke was coming out of your engine you could make it to the next layby. But then the Department of Transport and Highways England changed the design and laybys are now every one and a half mile instead of 600 metres. They have totally changed the goalposts.” (source).

18/09/2019Police slam ‘dangerous’ motorway plans to scrap hard shoulder

Instead of parking up on the side of the road, smart motorways will force drivers to head to emergency refuge areas. These zones are reached every 75 seconds for someone travelling at 60mph on the road, but as cars slow down the time gaps between the safe zones increase.

Cars who can’t make it are then potentially stuck in the middle of a live motorway lane, increasing the risk of a devastating collision.

Hampshire Police released an image of officers attending a broken-down van parked in the middle of a lane after failing to reach safety.

Alongside the image, the force tweeted: “The downside to smart motorway. This driver [was] stuck in a dangerous location with nowhere safe to go. With no hard shoulder, we need to protect him whilst recovery is called.”

13/09/2018: Smart motorways are a scandal – it’s time to end this deadly experiment .  Smart motorways, then. No doubt you’ve heard the term bandied about a fair bit in recent weeks. First we found out, thanks to a report by the AA, that breakdowns were deemed an astonishing 216 per cent more dangerous on smart motorways than on old-fashioned ‘dumb’ ones, according to Highways England’s own analysis. (Source: Telegraph).

30/08/2019: ‘Breaking down in a live lane on an all-lane-running (ALR) section of a ‘digital road’ – more commonly known as a smart motorway – is 216 per cent more dangerous than doing so on a conventional motorway with a hard shoulder, a damning report by the organisation responsible for running motorways has revealed‘. Source PressForm

17 minutes to find a broken down vehicle in a live lane

30/08/2019: ‘Report reveals breaking down in a live lane on an all-lane-running motorway is 216% more dangerous than doing so on a conventional one

The report’s revelations are at odds with Government evidence given to the Transport Select Committee in September 2016, when the Committee heard Stopped Vehicle Detection systems would be applied to all sections of ALR smart motorway’. Source: AutoExpress

30/07/2019: Auto Express investigation reveals 224,225 breakdowns in the last year
That a 15% rise year-on-year and up from 189,246 in 2014/15
Some 100 miles of motorways in England are All-Lane-Running smart routes
These have emergency refuge areas every 1.5miles instead of hard shoulders. Source

30/06/2019:  Drivers no longer need the hard shoulder, says Highways England amid criticism of smart motorways.  Source: The Telegraph

06/09/2019: What is a smart motorway? Speed cameras, traffic management and hard shoulder use explained. Safety concerns have led to Highways England increasing the number of smart motorway refuge areas, with one appearing every mile where possible – source Metro.

02/09/2019: The widow of a driver who was killed in a crash on a smart motorway is to sue Highways England for corporate manslaughter, it has emerged.  Claire Mercer accused Highways England of failing to provide drivers with a safe place to stop and pull over and neglecting to implement adequate systems to detect a stationary vehicle in order to protect drivers stopped between lanes of fast-moving traffic. (source TransportNetwork).  Highways England has argued its evidence indicates that since opening, across nine all lane running schemes the casualty rate has reduced by 28%.

04/07/2019 Drivers No Longer Need The Hard Shoulder


29/07/2019 – AutoExpress Exclusive: number of breakdowns reaches five-year high

More breakdown, less hard-shoulder refuges

‘The number of vehicles breaking down on England’s motorway and major-road network reached a five-year high in the previous financial year, with Highways England recording 224,225 breakdowns in 2018/19, up from 189,256 in 2014/15’.  full article here.

25/07/2019 – Highway Code rule 258 has been updated to provide details about red ‘x’ signs on motorways. See the full rules changes – Motorways – Motorway signals (255 to 258)

2016 Minister’s determined to press ahead despite safety concerns.

In a report published in June 2016, the Transport Committee warned that Government should not proceed with ‘all lane running’ schemes while major safety concerns exist.

Louise Ellman, Chair of the Transport Committee, commented:

The Department for Transport is blatantly ignoring the safety concerns set out in our report. We had barely received the response to our report before the Government endorsed an all lane running scheme on the M4.

General Information:

30/11/2017: M1 Pile-Up Blamed on Smart Motorway. Source Derby Telegraph

08/2015 – Highways England to expand in-house team after DfT separation – Berwin Leighton Paisner advised Highways England as it awarded £1.55bn worth of contracts for its smart motorways programme.