The rollout of new, all-lane running smart motorways is being halted until five years of safety data is available, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced.

In line with the Transport Committee’s most recent recommendations, the rollout of new ALR smart motorways will be paused until a full 5 years’ worth of safety data becomes available for schemes introduced before 2020. After this point, the government will assess the data and make an informed decision on next steps.

In a statement published 12 January 2022, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “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.”

This will include investing £390 million to install more than 150 additional emergency areas so drivers have more places to stop if they get into difficulty. This will represent around a 50 percent increase in places to stop by 2025.

The Government will also follow the recommendations to:

  • pause the conversion of dynamic hard shoulder smart motorways to ALR until the next Road Investment Strategy
  • conduct an independent evaluation of the effectiveness of stopped vehicle detection technology
  • explore the introduction of the emergency corridor manoeuvre to the Highway Code
  • investigate the benefits of health and safety assessments being undertaken by the Office of Rail and Road.

“Taken together, and building on my initial stocktake, these measures will ensure that our roads continue to be among the safest in the world – helping drivers not just to be safe, but crucially, to feel safe and confident when driving,” added Shapps.

Read more: Rollout and safety of smart motorways: government response to the Transport Committee’s third report, 12 January 2022.