A number of you have written to Suella over the past few months detailing your concerns about Smart Motorways. In response Suella set up a number of meetings with the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. She raised several of your specific queries with Grant and is pleased to announce that, in response, the Government has introduced its Smart Motorways Action Plan.
Although a significant amount of evidence shows that in most ways, smart motorways are as safe as, or safer than, conventional motorways. Smart motorways have helped us cope with a 23% rise in traffic since 2000. They save motorists thousands of hours sitting in jams. They reduce the disruption and environmental destruction which would otherwise be needed to widen our busiest roads. Whilst these are of course beneficial, unfortunately safety is not ascendant in every category.Resultantly, Suella has welcomed the initiatives from The Department of Transport to do all it can to improve safety. Like many of her concerned constituents she was pleased to hear about the publication of a package of 18 measures. This will allow us to retain the benefits of smart motorways while addressing the concerns that have been identified.
These measures include the abolishing of confusing ‘dynamic hard shoulder’ motorways and substantially speeding up the deployment of ‘stopped vehicle detection’ – a radar-based system which spots stationary vehicles – so that it is installed across the entire smart motorway network within 36 months. These will of course extend to the M27 which so many of you have been rightly concerned about.
The changes will also ensure that the distance between places to stop in an emergency is reduced to three-quarters of a mile where feasible, so that on future schemes motorists should typically reach one every 45 seconds at 60mph. The maximum spacing will be one mile. Suella also welcomed the fact that there will be faster attendance by more Highways England traffic officer patrols on smart motorways where the existing spacing between places to stop in an emergency is more than one mile, with the aim of reducing the attendance time from an average of 17 minutes to 10 minutes
These measures will drastically help to improve safety on our roads and will make driving on the M27 considerably safer. Suella wants to thank her Fareham constituents for helping bring about these extremely welcome changes. As a community Fareham has a strong and respected voice in parliament and she is always seeking to project this further. Any policy suggestions are always welcome and Suella looks forward to hearing from many of you in the future about your concerns and queries.