Derbyshire police chief joins calls for review of smart motorways after deaths
A Derbyshire police chief has joined calls for a review into smart motorways.
Hardyal Dhindsa, Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), spoke out after new figures showed 14 people died on smart motorways in 2019, up from 11 fatalities in 2018 and five in 2017.
Smart motorways have been criticised by many because they do not have a hard shoulder and drivers who break down can be trapped in the speeding traffic.
Mr Dhindsa told the Derbyshire Times: “Road safety is of paramount importance and we must take every step to keep the roads as safe as possible.
“That’s why, having looked at the data, I fully support a review into the safety of smart motorways.
“I know that Derbyshire Constabulary is committed to continuing its work with Highways England and partners in order to further improve road safety on these sections of roads, and a review will help inform that work.”
The M1 between junction 28 (Alfreton) and junction 31 (Aston) is designated as a smart motorway.
The Derbyshire Times has reported on a number of crashes on that stretch of the motorway.
Earlier this month, a collision occurred on the M1 between junctions 30 and 31 involving a lorry and a car which had broken down in the first lane of the motorway.
A man was airlifted to hospital with injuries which were not believed to be life-threatening.
Last month, Sheffield coroner David Urpeth concluded that the lack of a hard shoulder had contributed to the deaths of Jason Mercer, 44, and Alexandru Murgeanu, 22, on the M1 near Sheffield in 2019.
Following the inquest, South Yorkshire’s PCC Dr Alan Billings wrote to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps calling for an urgent review into smart motorways.
An ‘evidence stocktake’ published by Mr Shapps last year stated that ‘in most ways’ they are as safe or safer than conventional motorways – but the chance of a crash involving a moving vehicle and a stationary vehicle is higher when the hard shoulder is removed.
Earlier this month, Mr Shapps said: “We have to make what is there safe.”
For more information about smart motorways and safety advice, visit www.highwaysengland.co.uk/road-safety/safer-driving-on-motorways.