Death trap smart motorways: Yorkshire MP calls for government to scrap smart motorways as two cars per day stop in live lanes

A Yorkshire MP has called for the government to abandon 'death trap' smart motorways on the M1 and M62 near Leeds.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 12:07 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th March 2021, 12:16 pm
A Yorkshire MP has called for an end to smart motorways

New data has been revealed which shows that an average of 68 vehicles per month stop in live lanes on the M1 between Junctions 32 and 35A. That's more than 2 per day stopping in live lanes on a small section of the M1 motorway.

In a single month in March 2018, there were 102 cars stopping in live lanes in a 10-mile stretch.

Sarah Champion MP has urged the Government to abandon ‘death trap’ smart motorways, following alarming new data on vehicles stranded in live lanes in her Rotherham constituency.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In response to her Written Parliamentary Question, the Department for Transport disclosed that there had been an average of 68 incidents per month in which a vehicle was stopped in a live lane since the smart motorway began operation in March 2017. In a single month, March 2018, there were 102 breakdown incidents recorded in just these 10 miles of road.

-> How the smart motorway cameras on the M1 work and how to avoid a fineBy contrast, in the three years prior to its conversion, no serious or fatal incidents took place in which a vehicle was struck whilst in the hard shoulder of the same stretch of motorway.

Speaking during Transport Questions, Sarah called on the Government to abandon smart motorways, saying: “Since its conversion to a smart motorway, the 10 mile stretch of the M1 between junctions 32 and 35A has seen an average of 68 breakdowns per month in live lanes. Each of these incidents had the potential to end in tragedy.’

"By contrast, in the three years prior to its conversion, not a single serious incident occurred in which a vehicle was struck in the hard shoulder. When will the Government stop gambling with the lives of motorists and abandon these dangerous, ill-thought out death traps?”

Responding for the Government, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said: “Smart motorways have been under development since 2001 under the Blair-John Prescott Government. I think I’m the first Secretary of State in 12 to carry out the stocktake and review, and I won’t rest until these are as safe as possible.”

Commenting on the figures, Sarah added: “I was shocked and terrified by the sheer number of incidents in which vehicles stopped in live lanes on just this one small section of the smart motorway network. Each of these incidents could have resulted in more lives lost on these dangerous roads.’

"By removing the hard shoulder, vehicles becoming stranded in moving traffic is made immeasurably more likely. The Government says it’s committed to rolling out new technology and safety improvements, but all that these achieve is to marginally reduce the huge risks they’ve created by removing the vital refuge that the hard shoulder provides.

“If the Government’s priority was really the safety of motorists, it could introduce safety features like stopped vehicle detection and overhead gantries without also removing the hard shoulder. Instead, they continue to press ahead with their so-called smart motorways, increasing capacity on the cheap by gambling with motorists’ lives.’

"Far too many people have lost their lives already. Too many families have lost loved ones. It is high time the Government listened to campaigners, motoring organisations and bereaved families and abandoned these deadly roads.”