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Near-misses on ‘smart motorway’ section of M25 up 20-fold, investigation finds | UK News

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Near-misses on one of Britain’s stretches of so-called “smart motorways” have increased 20-fold since the hard shoulder was taken away, it is claimed.

They were intended to reduce congestion on the busiest parts of the road network by becoming another lane drivers could use, but it means anyone who breaks down is left in the middle of traffic.

Smart motorways have screens that can light up to indicate lane closures
Image:
Smart motorways have screens that can light up to indicate lane closures. File pic

An investigation has found that on one of the two converted sections of the M25, there were 1,485 near misses since the scheme was introduced.

In comparison, there were only 72 in the five years before it was a smart motorway, according to the research.

The car detection system can spot stranded vehicles immediately – nationally, motorists have to wait an average of 17 minutes to be spotted, and a further 17 minutes before they are rescued.

Ahe former government minister who approved the roll-out, has told the BBC that he was misled about the risks of the system.

Sir Mike Penning has claimed the smart motorways are “endangering people’s lives”.

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He said: “There are people that are being killed and seriously injured on these roads, and it should never have happened.”

The government is planning to overhaul the network, fitting radar across the smart motorway system in the next three years, according to the BBC.

It also said that dynamic hard shoulders – which sometimes act as a hard shoulder but can be opened as traffic lanes – will be scrapped.

The AA claims of the 17,000 people it questioned, only 9% feel relaxed or safe driving on a smart motorway, while 12% think they are as safe as traditional motorways.

The Department for Transport said a review into smart motorways announced in October was still ongoing.

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps has told the Panorama’s Britain’s Killer Motorway programme: “We absolutely have to have these as safe, or safer as regular motorways, or we shouldn’t have them at all.”

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