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Smart motorways: Reaction to government decision

Smart motorways: Reaction to government decision | Insurance Business UK

Smart motorways: Reaction to government decision

Upon the recommendation of the UK Parliament’s Transport Committee, the government will be pausing the rollout of new all lane running (ALR) smart motorway schemes until a full five years’ worth of safety data is available – a step that Allianz believes is in the right direction.

“We welcome the government’s decision to pause the rollout of smart motorways,” commented Allianz Commercial motor claims head Ian Kershaw. “Additional time and data will help to define whether the conditions for their continued safe implementation are met.

“We’ll pay particular attention to the technology being deployed to detect stopped vehicles and, where hard shoulders are removed, the provision of emergency refuge areas at close enough intervals. We’ll continue to work together with other insurers to support the government in delivering a safe and efficient transportation system.”

In a written statement to Parliament on Wednesday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the committee’s report had been carefully considered and that he will be taking forward all of its recommendations, including that on the rollout of future ALR smart motorway schemes.

Last November, the Transport Committee asserted that the government’s decision to make all smart motorways all lane running was premature. It argued that data on the safety and economic performance of existing ALR smart motorway schemes were insufficient.

Meanwhile Shapps also announced: “During the pause, we will continue to make sure all existing ALR smart motorways are equipped with best-in-class technology and resources and are as safe as they can possibly be.

“I will also follow the recommendations to pause the conversion of dynamic hard shoulder smart motorways to ALR until the next Road Investment Strategy; retrofit more emergency areas across existing ALR schemes; conduct an independent evaluation of the effectiveness of stopped vehicle detection technology; explore the introduction of the emergency corridor manoeuvre to the Highway Code; [and] investigate the benefits of health and safety assessments being undertaken by the Office of Rail and Road.”

National Highways chief executive Nick Harris added that safety is the absolute priority and that they are fully committed to adopting the Transport Committee’s recommended measures.

It was, however, noted by Department for Transport (DfT) that “While DfT will be taking forward all the recommendations set out in the committee’s recommendations, it does not agree with the view that smart motorways were rolled out prematurely or unsafely. All ALR smart motorway schemes are, and will continue to be, subject to high standards of design, risk assessment, and construction, followed by detailed monitoring and evaluation once opened to traffic.

“While further data is being collected, National Highways will continue work to complete schemes that are currently in construction, which will all open with technology in place to detect stopped vehicles. These schemes are all more than 50% completed, and halting progress on them now would cause significant disruption for drivers.”