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Only 1 in 10 feel safer on Smart Motorways when compared to traditional motorways

16 October 2019

  • 7 out of 10 drivers say All Lane Running feels more dangerous than motorways with a hard shoulder
  • More than half of drivers say rollout of All Lane Running should be stopped
  • Trust in Highways England recommended distances between refuges falls by 30%

Smart motorway

Only 1 in 10 drivers (10%1) say they feel safer on All Lane Running Smart (ALR) Motorway schemes compared to a traditional motorway according to a study by the AA.

The survey of more than 15,000 drivers found that 7 out of 10 (71%) believed that ALR schemes felt more dangerous than a motorway with a permanent hard shoulder with around half (48%) saying they strongly believed they felt more dangerous.

There was also a fall in trust for the existing distances between Emergency Refuge Areas (ERA). In February 2016, almost a quarter (23%2) felt that 1.5 miles was a suitable distance between ERAs, but this has now fallen to 16%.

public trust on removing the hard shoulder has pretty much evaporated
Edmund King, AA President

From April 2020, all new schemes will have ERA spaced at every mile, but only two fifths (41%) believe this is a suitable distance. Almost two thirds (63%) believe ERAs should be spaced every half a mile. Drivers’ acceptance of these distances have changed considerably since 2016:

AA Populus Driver Poll, acceptance of ERA distances

Distance between ERA February 2016 September 2019 % Difference
1.5 miles (2.5km) 23% 16%

-30%

1.0 miles (1.6km) 55% 41%

-25%

0.5 miles (1.0km) 52% 63% 21%

Following five deaths along the same stretch of the M1, more than half (52%) of drivers believe the rollout of ALR schemes should be stopped. On Friday, the Coroner for West Midlands advised they were going to raise concerns to Highways England following the death of 8-year old Dev Naran.3

The news comes as the new Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, gives evidence before the Transport Select Committee today (16 October) to outline his priorities for the role.

Edmund King, AA president says; “We believe the Secretary of State should now announce a review into the safety of All Lane Running Schemes.

“Unfortunately we have already seen fatalities where vehicles have been left in vulnerable positions in live lanes. Previous research has shown that if Stopped Vehicle Detection is not in place it takes an average of 17 minutes to spot a stationary vehicle in a live lane.

“Our new study shows that public trust on removing the hard shoulder has pretty much evaporated. Before any further schemes begin, we need an urgent and independent review into the safety of existing schemes.”


1. Populus received 15,152 responses from AA members to its online poll between 17th and 25th September 2019. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

2. Populus received 25,208 responses from AA members to its online poll between 16th and 23rd February 2016. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

3.Coroner for West Midlands advised they were going to raise concerns to Highways England following the death of 8-year old Dev Naran

4.The AA will be in attendance to hear Mr Shapps and the Committee

5. 17 minutes to spot a stationary vehicle in a live lane

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