New ‘digital roads’ replacing smart motorways could mean roadworks speed limits will be higher
NEW smart motorways across the country could mean speed limits during roadworks will be higher.
But safety experts have called out the change, saying it will endanger motorists and recovery workers.
Highways England has announced the roadworks speed limit will increase from 50mph to 60mph on motorways across the country.
The decision to change the speed restrictions comes after trials found there was “no indication that the 60mph speed limit had a negative impact on road users safety”.
Smart motorways – set to be renamed “digital roads” – will double in length across the country from 416 miles to almost 800 by 2025.
The hard shoulder will also be removed from motorways in a bid to remove congestion.
If a car breaks down, motorists will now have to stop in emergency lay-bys which are a mile apart.
This means drivers who break down in between these refuge spots could be forced to sit in live traffic.
Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “We support road improvements to remove pinch points and improve motorway capacity but not if it compromises road safety.
“Renaming smart motorways as ‘digital roads’ doesn’t mean the system still won’t crash. We are happy to embrace technology but more physical emergency laybys would reassure drivers and make our roads safer.”
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Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England chief executive, told The Sunday Times: “With the volume, speed and size of modern cars, the refuge areas are safer than the hard shoulder.
“You will not get a car or truck drift into the emergency refuge area, whereas they can and do drift into the hard shoulder.
“We are now well into smart motorway operation and the statistics we have are reliable.
“They are telling us that the safety record on smart motorways is arguably better than what we see on conventional motorways.”
Source: The Sun Motors – New ‘digital roads’ replacing smart motorways could mean roadworks speed limits will be higher