Smart motorways “our safest roads” – National Highways CEO


The chief executive of the UK’s National Highways, Nick Harris (pictured), has hailed all-lane-running smart motorways as “our safest roads” as his organisation publishes its Smart Motorway Stocktake – Second Year Progress Report 2022.

New analysis published as part of the Smart Motorway Stocktake – Second Year Progress Report confirms that overall, in terms of serious or fatal casualties, smart motorways are the safest roads on the Strategic Road Network, for which National Highways is responsible.

The report also indicates that the risk of a collision between moving vehicles is lower on ALR and Dynamic Hard Shoulder (DHS) motorways – where the hard shoulder operates only part-time – than conventional motorways.

“The latest data shows that, overall, in terms of serious or fatal casualties, smart motorways are our safest roads,” says Nick Harris, chief executive of National Highways. “We are continuing our work to make them our safest roads in every way. We will continue to build on the work already undertaken and continue to put safety first to help ensure drivers have confidence in the motorway network.”

The Smart Motorway Stocktake – Second Year Progress Report 2022 underlines the progress made against the action plan first published by UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in 2020 to further improve safety and boost drivers’ confidence when using the motorway network.

In January 2022, the UK’s Department for Transport and National Highways agreed to pause the roll-out of new ALR schemes – those yet to begin construction – until five years of safety and economic data are available. It was also announced that £390 million would be spent on new emergency areas or other places to stop in an emergency.

New technology on target

The report also highlights that National Highways it is on course to upgrade almost 100 safety cameras to enable automatic detection of vehicles that ignore Red X lane closure signals by the end of September. This is designed to increase compliance with the Red X, helping to ensure the safety of drivers and their passengers in difficulty, or road workers and emergency services who need a safe space to work.

It will also add to the more than 330 extra signs that it has already installed to inform drivers of the distance to the next place to stop in the event of a mechanical problem or emergency.

In addition, National Highways is on track to complete the roll-out of radar-based technology that can spot a stopped or broken-down vehicle on over 200 miles of All Lane Running (ALR) motorway by the end of September 2022.

Smart motorways without a hard shoulder are fitted with technology and features not seen on conventional motorways such as emergency areas (EAs) set-back from the carriageway, radar-based Stopped Vehicle Detection (SVD) and Red X signals on gantries to close live lanes.


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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).