UK Government Smart Motorway Rollout Paused Until 5 Years of Safety Data is Available

The UK government has paused its rollout of smart motorways until 5 years of safety data is available. The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has welcomed the Transport Committee’s report, which endorsed its focus on further upgrading the safety of existing ALR smart motorways rather than reinstating the hard shoulder. Current stretches of UK smart motorway will be upgraded with best-in-class technology and resources, £900 million commitment to ensure drivers feel safe and confident, including extra £390 million to install additional emergency areas.

Current Smart Motorway Data

The current UK smart motorway data available shows that the smart motorways are comparatively the safest roads in the country in terms of fatality rates, while the current rollout is paused, the government will ensure current smart motorways without a permanent hard shoulder will be equipped with the best-in-class technology and resources to make them as safe as possible for road users.

The smart motorway system will be bolstered with the introduction of this technology, which includes investing £390 million to add approximately 150 additional emergency areas. By 2025, this will result in a 50% increase in stopping places, providing greater reassurance for drivers using the system.

The Department for Transport has praised the report of the Transport Committee, which endorses its concentration on improving the safety of existing ALR smart motorways rather than reinstating the hard shoulder. According to the committee, evidence suggests that hard shoulders are not always a safe place to stop, and by lowering motorway capacity, they also noted they could place more drivers and passengers at risk of death or serious injury if they were to divert onto lesser-safe local roads.

The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“One of my first actions as Transport Secretary was to order a stocktake of smart motorways and since then, I have worked consistently to raise the bar on their safety. I am grateful to the Transport Committee and to all those who provided evidence for its work.”

“While our initial data shows that smart motorways are among the safest roads in the UK, it’s crucial that we go further to ensure people feel safer using them.”

“Pausing schemes yet to start construction and making multimillion-pound improvements to existing schemes will give drivers confidence and provide the data we need to inform our next steps. I want to thank safety campaigners, including those who have lost loved ones, for rightly striving for higher standards on our roads. I share their concerns.”

Nick Harris CEO of The National Highways said:

“We have listened to public concerns about smart motorways and we are fully committed to taking forward the additional measures the Transport Committee has recommended.”

“While we pause those all lane running schemes yet to start construction, we will complete the schemes currently in construction. We will make existing sections as safe as they can possibly be and we will step up our advice to drivers so they have all the information they need.”

“We are doing this because safety is our absolute priority and we want drivers to not just be safer, but also to feel safe on our busiest roads.”

Department For Transport To Evaluate Committee Recommendations

The Department for Transport (DfT) does not agree with the argument that smart motorways were put in prematurely or unsafely. The plans regarding the future of smart motorways in the UK are as follows: Once built to standards that satisfy high criteria for design, risk assessment, and construction, ALR smart motorway projects will continue to be subjected to intensive monitoring and evaluation once they’re open to traffic.

National Highways will continue to work on previously started projects to complete them, with technology in place to detect stopped vehicles, as further data is collected. The most important reason for this is that the majority of these projects are at least 50% completed, and stopping them now would cause a lot of inconvenience for drivers.

Design work will also continue on those schemes already being planned, so they are ready to be constructed depending on the outcome of the pause. No preparatory construction work is to take place.

Also, in agreement with the committee’s suggestions, National Highways will temporarily stop converting dynamic hard shoulder (DHS) motorways with open hard shoulders at busy times into all-lanes-running motorways while it investigates different ways of operating them to make things easier for drivers. National Highways will also make use of technology to detect stopped vehicles on these sections of the smart motorway system.

Source of information: Department for Transport News


The UK government smart motorway rollout paused until five years of safety data is available from existing implementations. This decision was made in light of recent concerns raised by the public and by the Transport Committee about the safety of these schemes. The Department for Transport will evaluate committee recommendations before deciding on the next steps. National Highways will continue to work on previously started projects, but no preparatory construction work is to take place.

We hope you found this news article “UK Government smart motorway rollout paused until 5 years of safety data is available” interesting, hopefully, the pause will reduce the number of roadworks slowing down the transport network across the UK at least for the next 5 years.