The transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced that the M20 Smart motorway will not open until a full review of smart motorways has taken place. A report by the all-party parliamentary group for roadside rescue and recovery claimed Smart Motorways are a “death trap”.
38 people have been killed on Smart motorways over the last 5 years, so it has finally been decided that they should be reviewed for safety. .
it’s only taken 38 death for safety to be reviewed
Tracey Crouch MP raised concerns that the scheme could open without any stopped vehicle detection or other vital safety measures. She added “I am not giving up the fight on this. If we are going to have an All Lane Running Motorway through my constituency, it damn well needs to be as safe as a normal stretch of motorway”.
The government safety review began in October 2019 as fears were raised that people were being killed when their cars broke down. This was only 18 months after work had already commenced on the £92million pound M20 project.
There is no clear picture what state the M20 will remain in, whilst the safety review is ongoing. The M20 is technically a non-smart smart motorway as there is no hard shoulder and the safety zones are out of action as they are coned off. If you breakdown on the M20 at present, there is nowhere for you to go and there are no cameras to detect your stationary vehicle. In effect, leaving the M20 in its current condition is more dangerous than finishing the work.
The official government advice if you breakdown is to pull over into an emergency areas. There are insuffcient emergency areas on the M20, especially between the M26 and Leybourne junction. Sadly when you breakdown, you do not normally get a choice of where exactly you would like it to happen. No amount of good luck or letters to Santa is going to ensure your car will conk out just by an emergency area – it is total lunacy. Most people with an once of common sense have been saying this since smart motorways were announced.
If Smart motorways are deemd to be too dangerous, where does this leave Kents motorists? The hard shoulder has now gone and there is not space to add a further lane, due to restrictions such as houses. The inside lane could be restored to a hard shoulder, but would entail months of extra work to re-assign the slip roads.
They have also built large gantries over the motorway which huge concrete blocks, which would be very close to any lane – including a hard shoulder – which would be a safety issue in itself.
Overall, the errors and waste of money is disgraceful. Whatever happens, it is going to cost more money to put right and the M20 will continue to be a construction zone for many more months. At least our MPs are pushing forward on our behalf for safety, but its at least £92million and two years too late.