In response to the government’s report released (12 March 2020), which finds smart motorways to be safe but in need of improvement, ChrisYarsley, Policy Manager for Road Infrastructure at FTA, comments:
“While official figures show smart motorways to be at least as safe as conventional motorways, FTA and its members wholeheartedly support the extra security provisions detailed in the report; measures we have long been urging government to deliver. By improving the safety of these roads, the UK can benefit from a more effective and efficient road network; as such, we are pleased to see their use will continue.
“After discussions with FTA’s Road Freight Council – a democratic body that determines FTA’s policy positions on such matters – members were unanimous in a call for a significant increase in public awareness and education on safe use of the smart motorway network; many drivers find the inconsistent road formats confusing. As such, we are pleased to see the government has committed £5million to fund public awareness campaigns. Our members called for an increase in the number of refuge areas and the roll-out of the stopped vehicle detection system and we are pleased government has listened to them and responded positively.
“FTA’s members do find smart motorways to be effective in producing more reliable journey times, but safety must always come first; we are pleased to see the government will, through commitments made in the report, provide the logistics industry with the reassurances it seeks.”
Mr Yarsley continues: “However, FTA is urging the government to view smart motorways as only a temporary solution to the lack of capacity on the UK’s roads; they should not be used as a permanent replacement to the construction of new roads and improvement of existing infrastructure. After all, businesses rely on effective and efficient road networks to keep goods moving across the UK; our members want to see a nationwide programme of road infrastructure upgrades, rather than these short-term solutions.
“Under the new plans, we hope to see the dynamic lanes – which are due to be removed – replaced with all lane running, so industry can continue to benefit from the additional infrastructure the lanes have provided.”