5 odd problems that smart motorways can present

5 odd problems that smart motorways can present

Love them or loathe them, it’s difficult to argue that the UK’s smart motorway programme hasn’t caused a few issues. Smart motorways use technology to actively manage traffic flow and increase capacity, which sounds like a good idea in principle, but they’ve been the subject of quite a lot of controversy and concern over the past few years. This can mainly be attributed the safety concerns they pose – but there’s also a sizeable number of people questioning to what extent we need them at all. So, whether you’re heading down a smart motorway in your own vehicle, or one you’ve rented through our reliable car hire, van hire or minibus hire services here at Intack Self Drive, here are the five key problems that smart motorways can present. 

5 key safety concerns with smart motorways

Smart motorways were sold to the government (and by extension, the public) on the principle that they would improve safety and cut congestion. Unfortunately, they’ve not lived up to those expectations, and smart motorways have been plagued with a variety of inherent problems. Here are five of the biggest.  

  • Hard shoulder confusion - smart motorways use technology to control traffic flow by opening and closing lanes, and by implementing variable speed limits. The main issue they present though is that it’s not uncommon for them to use the hard shoulder as an extra live lane to reduce congestion. As a result, this can increase the risk of accidents, particularly if drivers are traveling at high speeds and aren’t able to react in time to changes in the road layout.
  • Inadequate monitoring and response - some critics argue that smart motorways are not monitored closely enough, and that there are insufficient resources in place to respond quickly to incidents or accidents. This can lead to delays in clearing incidents and restoring normal traffic flow, which can cause frustration for drivers and increase the risk of further accidents
  • Limited emergency access - the emergency services may struggle to access incidents on smart motorways due to the lack of hard shoulders. While some smart motorways have emergency refuge areas, these may be spaced too far apart or not available in time, which can lead to longer response times for emergency services, and therefore a risk that someone may not receive the treatment they need.
  • Public find them difficult to understand - smart motorways have been criticised for being confusing and difficult to understand, which has seriously eroded public confidence in the safety of the road network. This has lead to drivers feeling nervous or apprehensive about using them, which can further increase the risk of accidents.

Smart motorway plans scrapped 

All these issues have led the government to recently announce that they’ll be scrapping all new smart motorway plans due to cost and safety concerns. Fourteen planned schemes have now been cancelled after a dramatic dip in public confidence (probably due to the reasons we’ve mentioned above!). When quizzed on it, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak - who pledged to ban smart motorways during his leadership campaign - said "all drivers deserve to have confidence in the roads they use to get around the country”.

Regardless of what happens to the existing smart motorways in the UK, you can always count on us here at Intack to keep doing what we do best - provide the very best deals on car hirevan hire, and minibus hire deals.

All of our rental vehicles here at Intack Self Drive come with the option to rent through daily hire, or our outstanding Flexi hire service, so wherever your intended destination, we'll have a vehicle that suits your requirements. We've got almost half a century of car and minibus hire experience under our belt here at Intack Self Drive, and we're always here to help. Ready to get started? You can browse the best hire deals, right here on our site, or give us a call on 01254 57811!

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