Letter: Highways - Reverse ‘smart’ motorway policy

No doubt many readers will be aware of the recent revelations about the dangers of so-called ‘smart’ motorways.

Sunday, 9th February 2020, 10:00 am
Traffic on the M1 motorway leaving Leeds in the rush hour.

These are the ones where the safe hard shoulder has been asphalted over to create an extra lane.

There’s virtually no provision for anyone unfortunate enough to have broken down to escape the traffic racing along behind them.

If you have travelled along the motorways immediately south or west of Leeds in the last few years you will have experienced them.

Despite warnings from police chiefs, motoring organisations and a parliamentary committee that advised a suspension of further development, the government blindly pressed ahead with its roll-out of these perillous roads.

Now the facts have emerged that 38 people have died on ‘smart’ motorways in the last five years - all almost certainly avoidable had the hard shoulder been available.

Many of these fatalities were on the M1 near Sheffield.

Among the numerous ministers and secretaries in the Transport Department during the period that these tragedies occurred was our MP Andrew Jones.

Since I first encountered the newly developed six miles of road on the M1 south of Leeds about three years ago I have written several times to Mr Jones.

At first he sent me polite justifications for ‘smart’ motorways but as the deaths have increased he has remained quiet.

Perhaps now that he is no longer associated with the road position he feels it’s not his responsibility.

I would disagree. He should always be held to account for his actions and could help to restore some of his reputation by pressing the current Minister for Transport to do everything to reverse the ‘smart’ policy and restore our motorways to the previous safer system.

Perhaps Harrogate and Knaresborough constituents who realise the urgency of this situation might find time to drop a line urging him to do so.

John Noton