A former roads minister who approved early designs of smart motorways has said they may put lives at risk.
Conservative MP for Hemel Hempstead Sir Mile Penning has reportedly said smart motorway emergency refuge laybays are spaced too far apart.
The Telegraph reports Mr Penning said he has been “shocked” by Highways England’s “continued prevarication” over its commitment to ensure Emergency Refuge Areas (ERAs) are built closer together on motorways where the hard shoulder has been turned into a ‘live’ lane.
A Commons Transport Committee report warning that the “scarcity” of emergency zones could “lead to a driver being forced to stop in a live lane in the event of a breakdown” was written three years ago.
Sir Penning told The Telegraph, “When I met Highways England in May of this year I was shocked to learn that none of the retrofitting of refuge areas had taken place, a whole 16 months after a commitment was made in writing to a Commons Select Committee.”
“I also pressed Highways England on their commitment to reducing spacing in the future “where applicable” to one mile – which is probably still too far apart – and left the meeting with the strong impression Highways England would look, again, to do the absolute minimum when it came to improving safety by reducing refuge area spacing.”
“The ‘where applicable’ qualification appears to be just another attempt to reduce costs to the detriment of the safety of recovery operators and motorists.”
“Highways England’s continued prevarication on this issue really isn’t good enough – the lives of recovery operators and stranded road users are being endangered by the design of existing sections of All Lane Running motorways,” concluded Mr Penning.