A new web poll on smart motorways from IAM RoadSmart has found the majority of motorists are against ‘smart’ motorways.

The majority of respondents (85%) want a halt on their construction until the safety case is fully proven.

Furthermore, 84% of the 4,500 respondents surveyed had little faith in the current safety systems. In particular, their abilities to detect breakdowns in a running lane and protect stranded motorists until help arrives.

 Need to listen

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy & Research, said: “Our members include many high mileage, experienced and confident motorway users. The results of this survey are clear to see, with the vast majority having very little, or no confidence, in the safety of smart motorways.

“We would urge the Department for Transport and Highways England to listen to what smart motorway users are saying and to consider our findings, along with other in-depth research, to determine the best approach to developing the smart motorway network. Delaying decisions on smart motorways will only lead to more drivers getting stressed.

“Alongside more education for drivers, IAM RoadSmart wants to see strong leadership with clear decisions taken soon on whether the programme should be reversed, or provided with the appropriate funding that will speed up delivery of the promised refuges, CCTV and vehicle detection technology.”

Disappointing motorists

Meanwhile, there are other hard-hitting results from the IAM RoadSmart study.

81% of motorists feel less safe travelling on a smart motorway compared to a normal ones.

81% agree that hard shoulders should be immediately reinstated on smart motorways.

More than 80% also want safety refuges on smart motorways to be spaced at 500 metres apart or less.

Finally, 40% of drivers found no noticeable improvement in their journey time from the Smart Motorway network. Meanwhile  only 4% finding a very noticeable improvement compared to 6% who actually found it worse than before.

More troubles

“This survey highlights a potentially very serious unintended consequence, ” states Greig. “Driver reluctance to use smart motorways could create increased traffic on local A and B roads. This would undoubtedly lead to an increased risk of collision and injury with even more delays and driver frustration resulting.”