'Overwhelming anger!' Richard Madeley highlights fury at smart motorways – 'heart sinks'

The Good Morning Britain host said he feared a school bus may break down on a live lane with “lorries barrelling down every minute”. He said the consequences “don’t bear thinking about” as he spoke to campaigner Claire Mercer, whose husband was killed on a smart motorway in 2019. 

Mr Madeley said: “I do a lot of motorway driving and when I’m on a section of smart motorway and I see a school bus or a school coach off on a day trip or going on holiday, my heart sinks.

“Because what if a school bus were to break down and why wouldn’t it, they are not miraculous machines they break down like everything else.

“What if a school bus breaks down on what used to be a hard shoulder but what is now a very active lane and there are dozens and dozens of lorries barrelling down that lane every minute.

“It doesn’t bear thinking about.”

READ MORE: Smart motorway safety cameras may be broken and faulty

However, they have been increasingly blamed for accidents as drivers have been hit from behind after stopping on the roads.

The Transport Select Committee said a temporary pause was needed to “evaluate the safety” of existing all-lane running schemes and to consider “alternative options”.

The report said: “The Government’s decision in March 2020 that all new smart motorways will be all-lane running motorways was premature.

“The Government and National Highways should therefore pause the rollout of all-lane running motorways to collect more data, to upgrade and then evaluate the safety of existing all-lane running schemes and to… consider alternative options for enhancing capacity on the Strategic Road Network.

“The Government and National Highways should pause the rollout of new all-lane running schemes until five years of safety and economic data is available for every all-lane running scheme introduced before 2020 and the implementation of the safety improvements in the Government’s action plan has been independently evaluated.”

Yesterday, a series of campaigners took to the streets of London in protest over the scheme.

Among the group was Ms Mercer who carried a cardboard coffin with the words ‘Smart Motorways kill’ while others pushed for hard shoulders to be reinstated.

One sign read: “Grant Shapps you know the only smart motorway is one with a hard shoulder”.

However, despite the calls for a hard shoulder to be re-introduced, the Transport Select Committee said they were “not convinced”.

They said simply reinstating hard shoulders on all-lane running schemes may not have a massive impact on road safety.

The report said: “We are not convinced that reinstating the hard shoulder on all all-lane running motorways will improve safety.

“The evidence suggests that doing so could put more drivers and passengers at risk of death and serious injury.

“The Government is right to focus on upgrading the safety of all-lane running motorways.”

The Department for Transport said: “Every death on our roads is a tragedy and our thoughts remain with anyone who has lost a loved one.

“While data shows that fatalities are less likely on smart motorways than on conventional ones, we know some drivers can feel less safe on them.

“That’s why we’ve tasked National Highways with implementing a raft of measures, including ensuring every new All Lane Running Motorway opens with technology to spot stopped vehicles.”

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