A ‘smart motorway’ is intended to alleviate road congestion by utilising live traffic-management measures, such as opening up the hard shoulder as a traffic lane.

Sections of the M1, M4-6, M25, M42 and M62 can operate as smart motorways but safety concerns have been raised recently following fatal incidents involving broken-down vehicles being stranded in live lanes and subsequently struck from behind by a fast-moving vehicle.

In November, the Commons Transport Select Committee called for the rollout to be paused on account of safety concerns.

The DfT has announced that as well as pausing the rollout for five years, it will invest £900m to improve safety on existing all-lane running (ALR) motorways. After this point, the government says it will assess the data and make an informed decision on next steps.

This will include investing £390m to install more than 150 additional emergency areas so drivers have more places to stop if they get into difficulty...

Robert Heaton