According to a recent article by the Daily Mail, a string of fatal crashes has been caused by the ridiculous rules of Smart Motorways. The journalist, along with the RAC and AA, have pointed out reasons why Smart Motorways may not be so smart, for instance, there seems to be an issue with how often the variable speed limits are updated. Rod Dennis, a spokesman for the RAC, commented that ‘Smart motorway signage is not always being switched off after incidents have been cleared, resulting in some drivers sticking to previous 40 mph limits, while others are rocketing past at 70 mph. Drivers need to be able to trust the motorway signs.’
But, arguably the most controversial element of the smart motorway is the removal of the hard shoulder, which acted as a necessary refuge for emergencies, such as breakdowns. Many people have noted that this removal is an incredibly poor decision considering the safety concerns it presents, and it has been blamed for fatalities which may have been prevented if the hard shoulder was available. As AA president, Edmund King, said: ‘The danger of breaking down in a live lane comes when you can’t get to a refuge area. Some 38 per cent of breakdowns occur in a live lane on a smart motorway.’
While those on provisional licenses are not allowed to have motorway lessons, it is important that, whether you’re teaching in Newbury or Basingstoke, even those on semi-intensive driving courses, are made aware of the potential hazards of smart motorways.