A ‘smart’ move to question changes to our motorways

 

UKIP transport spokesman Jill Seymour is urging the Government to act on the results of a survey which shows the public still has ‘serious concerns’ about the roll-out of smart motorways.

Almost 20,000 people responded to the AA survey over the operation of ‘all lane running schemes’, prompting concerns to be raised by the House of Commons transport select committee.

Lilian Greenwood MP, who chairs the committee, said the survey showed the public still has ‘serious concerns about the safety’ of the schemes.

Smart motorways use overhead gantries with built-in speed cameras to direct traffic into lanes, with variable speed limits responding to the volume of vehicles.

The hard shoulder is often turned into an extra lane in a bid to ease congestion – leaving long stretches of motorway without an emergency refuge. The Commons committee said this was an issue ‘of particular concern’.

Mrs Seymour, a West Midlands MEP, said: “The Government should halt the proposed roll-out of these so-called smart motorways immediately until the many concerns have been addressed.

“We’re told they are part of a campaign to improve safety on our roads – but it seems to me they are being used first and foremost as a revenue-generator to penalise the driver.

“The Government insists this is not the case, but statistics suggest otherwise. I have yet to see any compelling evidence that safety records or average journey times have improved on stretches where smart motorways have been introduced.

“Like the select committee, I have been voicing serious concerns over the lack of emergency refuge areas on sections of motorway where the hard shoulder is removed to operate as an extra lane.”

She added: “We’ve already got more than 230 miles of Smart Motorways in the UK, and that figure is due to almost double over the next few years.

“No wonder these schemes are being escalated – revenue from speeding fines has increased to more than £1.1 million a year, compared with little more than £150,000 five years ago.

“It’s clear from the result of this latest AA survey that questions need to be answered about the way smart motorways are being rolled out.

“I for one will be delighted if the programme is halted, because I believe that once again, it is once again using the already over-taxed motorist as a cash-cow to line the Government’s pockets.”

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