AA wants parties to back return of hard shoulder


The AA has called on political parties contesting the General Election to commit to scrapping all smart motorways.

The motoring organisation said it has been raising concerns about the safety of the controversial roads for over a decade and was at the forefront of the campaign that led to the announcement last year that new all lane running schemes would be scrapped.

However, it remains unclear what will happen to the existing 193 miles of all lane running (ALR) smart motorways and the 63 miles with a dynamic hard shoulder (DHS), where the hard shoulder is used as a traffic lane when it is busy.

The AA said it ‘thinks there is a relatively simple and inexpensive solution: on ALR sections, reinstate the hard shoulder with a Red X and new lane markings, bringing them in line with the DHS sections'.

It said the objective would be on all these stretches for the hard shoulder to be in place permanently, but the technology (overhead gantries and Red Xs) still would give the opportunity to open this lane to traffic in exceptional circumstances.

These stetches would then become controlled motorways – the third category of smart motorways.

AA president Edmund King OBE (pictured) said: ‘The smart motorway experiment has failed. Politicians need to stand up and be counted. There is no great love for smart motorways and the vast majority want them scrapped.

‘Despite all the hundreds of millions of pounds being spent to retrofit and try to justify a flawed concept, now is the time for a radical change.

‘If not, history suggests future governments will have another Post Office-type scandal on their hands, as politicians and civil servants knew from the outset that lives would be put at risk by removing the hard shoulder and putting in inadequate emergency areas.’

The AA dismissed suggestions that reinstating the hard shoulder would increase congestion, arguing that more than a third of drivers don’t use the inside lane at present.

It added that incidents on smart motorways cause severe congestion and delay the emergency services getting through to crashes.

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