Public Law Experts Welcome MP’s Calls To Pause The Rollout Over Safety Fears
Lawyers have given a cautious welcome to a report from MP’s which says the rollout of smart motorways should be paused, while pointing out that more still needs to be done in the light of ongoing concerns.
Parliament’s Transport Safety Committee’s report into the ‘Rollout and Safety’ of smart motorways’ states that to guard against the introduction of unsafe changes, the rollout of ‘All Lanes Running’ (ALR) motorways should be paused until five years of safety data is available.
Irwin Mitchell represents the families of those killed and seriously injured, including Claire Mercer, whose husband Jason died on the M1 near Sheffield in June 2019, when a lorry crashed into his vehicle and has led the debate over road safety on smart motorways.
ALRs have no hard shoulder for drivers’ refuge in the event of a collision or breakdown and campaigners have been calling for the re-introduction of the hard shoulder, with the TSC arguing that the government was right to focus on upgrading the safety of ALRs instead.
The report was published as demonstrators carried 38 cardboard coffins to parliament in protest over smart motorways, one for every person killed between 2014 and 2019.
Expert Opinion“This latest report from MPs lays bare many of the concerns we and campaigners have over the safety and future of smart motorways and in that regard, the report is to be welcomed as a step in the right direction.
“We have continued to investigate evidence around existing ALRs and concerns over their safety and we are in agreement with campaigners like Claire who argue that much more needs to be done before the public can be reassured that such roads do not compromise safety to an unacceptable standard.
“This report is just the latest in a line of studies that suggest much more needs to be done and the proposal of a pause in the rollout is a good start but the very real concerns of campaigns and the wider public will not go away.
“The government needs to recognise the report’s findings and in doing so, accept the rollout of ALRs was premature and take tangible action to improve road safety. It should not take the experiences of people like Claire and others to force action and deliver safer roads for all.” Helen Smith - Senior Associate Solicitor