Radar tech to spot broken down cars added to 111 more miles of smart motorway

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Radar technology to detect broken down vehicles has been retrofitted to 111 more miles of England’s smart motorways in the past year, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.

The Cabinet minister told the Commons Transport Select Committee the stopped vehicle detection system “should have been part of the plan from the outset”.

He added that “good progress is being made” on improving the safety of smart motorways but he is “impatient” for more action.

National Highways has committed to ensuring every stretch of motorway where the hard shoulder has been permanently removed will have radar technology fitted by the end of September.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps
Grant Shapps (Victoria Jones/PA)

Incidents of people being killed after being hit from behind while stopped in live traffic lanes on smart motorways sparked safety fears.

Mr Shapps said National Highways will soon publish new data showing the roads “remain among the safest in the country, notwithstanding the concerns that we all have”.

In January, the Department for Transport halted the development of new smart motorways without a hard shoulder until five years of safety data has been collected for schemes introduced before 2020.

This follows a report by the Transport Select Committee in November 2021 which said there was not enough information to justify continuing with new projects.

Smart motorways feature various methods to manage the flow of traffic, including using the hard shoulder as a live running lane and variable speed limits.

They were introduced in England in 2014 as a cheaper way of increasing capacity compared with widening carriageways.

There are about 375 miles of smart motorway in England, including 235 miles without a hard shoulder.

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