Ministers say no to hard shoulder driving
‘All-lane running’ considered unsafe by Transport Select Committee
The UK Government’s proposal to allow hard shoulder driving on all-lane running motorways has been criticised as ‘unacceptable’ by ministers.
The proposal was brought forward by the Department for Transport, which has forecasted a road traffic increase by 60 per cent on the Strategic Road Network between 2010 and 2040.
To cope with this traffic increase, the Department for Transport wants to transform the hard shoulder of 300 miles of British smart motorways into a fixed driving lane. According to the DfT, over 10 per cent of the country’s motorway network will be ‘all-lanes running’ within the next 9 years.
Smart motorways, which are controlled using active traffic management, are already in operation along some parts of the M25, M6 and the M1. There are also plans to transform some sections of the M3 and M23 into smart motorways.
At present, the hard shoulder on smart motorways is used during peak times and during emergencies in order to control traffic and prevent congestion. However, the DfT wants the hard shoulder to be permanently in use on all-lane running motorways.
The DfT’s proposal to turn 300 miles of motorways into all-lane running has been heavily criticised in a report published by the House of Commons Transport Select Committee, which believes the dangers involved are too severe.
According to the committee and road safety firms, including the AA and RAC, the emergency run-off areas on ‘all-lane running’ motorways are too small and too far and few between.
Edmund King, president of the AA, commented on the proposal: “Breaking down on a motorway in a live running lane is every driver’s worst fear. Whilst we need to increase capacity and reduce congestion we must ensure that we are not cutting corners which compromise safety just to reduce costs.”
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