All lane running smart motorways now more lethal, data shows

04/05/2021
Chris Ames

Fatality rates on all lane running (ALR) ‘smart motorways’ have exceeded those on conventional motorways for the past two years, with 15 people now confirmed to have died on motorways without a permanent hard shoulder in 2019.

New data submitted by the Government to the Transport Select Committee also highlights that controlled motorways – where technology has been introduced but the hard shoulder is retained – are significantly safer than both ALR schemes and conventional motorways.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has provided data for the five-year period from 2015-2019, which shows that while live lane fatality rates were lower on ALR schemes than on conventional motorways during 2015, 2016 and 2017, ALR fatality rates overtook those on conventional motorways in 2018 and 2019.

In 2018, the fatality rate on ALR schemes was 0.19 per hundred million vehicle miles (hmvm), compared to 0.14 on conventional motorways. In 2019, fatality rates on both types of motorway fell, with ALR schemes recording 0.14 fatalities per hmvm, still higher than conventional motorways at 0.13.

During this period, the fatality rate on dynamic hard shoulder schemes (DHS - where the hard shoulder becomes a running lane in high traffic flow) rose six-fold from 0.03 per hmvm in 2018 to 0.18 in 2019, suggesting that a rise in fatalities on this type of motorway drove the increase on motorways without a hard shoulder, from 11 to 15.

Significantly, the fatality rate on controlled motorways was 0.07 in 2019, down from 0.11, significantly lower than on ALR and conventional motorways.

The DfT said Highways England had compiled the (annual average) figures used in the recent ‘progress report’ on a five-year basis ‘because single-year figures are too low and variable to draw consistent conclusions from’.

The five year average fatality rates for 2015-19 were 0.15 for conventional motorways, 0.12 for ALR schemes, 0.08 for DHS schemes and 0.06 for controlled motorways.

Claire Mercer, whose husband Jason was one of the people killed on a smart motorway in 2019 told the Daily Mail: 'They are purposefully using the five-year figure rather than the two most recent years.'

Officials said that the increase in fatalities on motorways without a hard shoulder between 2018 and 2019 reflected ‘in part the increase in traffic on the motorway network generally and on these roads in particular’.

This appears to be a result both of the increase in ALR stretches of motorway and existing schemes becoming busier.

As Highways has revealed, the only five-year Post Opening Project Evaluation (POPE) to have been published showed that a smart motorway scheme on the M6 became less safe as traffic levels rose, with collisions rising by 50%.

The DfT told MPs that POPE reports for specific schemes ‘will be published to compare the safety impact before and after a project is delivered’. However, Highways England has published just one new POPE report since the DfT’s smart motorway stocktake in March 2020.

Highways jobs

Senior Traffic Engineer

£34,728 - £38,890 per annum
An exciting opportunity has arisen within the Highways & Flooding team for an experienced Senior Traffic Engineer. Monmouthshire (Sir Fynwy)
Recruiter: Monmouthshire County Council

Director of Place

£82,200
Mid Devon is a beautiful predominantly rural district, with rolling hills and valleys, picturesque villages and attractive market towns Tiverton, Devon
Recruiter: Mid Devon District Council

Assistant Director Route to Zero Carbon

£77,046 - £95,230
As you coordinate and implement a series of projects and programme to reduce carbon emissions... Birmingham, West Midlands
Recruiter: Birmingham City Council

Principal Environmental Health Officer

£41,952 - £48,663
To be considered for this post you be a qualified Environmental Health Officer with a certificate of registration issued by the... Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Environmental Health Officer / Graduate Environmental Health Officer

£34,033 - £43,659
This role follows a period of growth and the renewal of our borough-wide additional HMO licensing scheme. Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Transport Projects Officer

£32,418 - £37,722 pa
Your role will involve developing, implementing and monitoring various transport projects as part of multidisciplinary project teams. Hounslow (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Hounslow London Borough Council

Senior Engineer (Network Management)

£43,860 - £46,839 pa
Join us as a Senior Engineer (Network Management), and you’ll contribute to the development and implementation of... Hounslow (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Hounslow London Borough Council

Highways Director

£92,402 to £101,644 per annum
As the Highways Director, you will lead and deliver the transformation of the Highways Division, to effectively... Derbyshire
Recruiter: Derbyshire County Council

Environment & Transport Director

£92,402 - £101,644 per annum
As the Environment and Transport Director you will lead a dynamic and challenging set of services, covering... Derbyshire
Recruiter: Derbyshire County Council

Principal Local Engineer

£35,745 - £43,857
The Principal Local Engineer role is to provide service at principal level to deliver Local Engineering duties Birmingham, West Midlands
Recruiter: Birmingham City Council

Transport Development Officer

£39,880 to £43,857
This new and exciting role will be pivotal in helping deliver the implementation of change associated with our response to the National Bus Strategy. North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Waste Collection Operative - Loaders / HGV Drivers (Hays Recruitment)

Competitive Salary
Hays are excited to be working in partnership with Chelmsford City Council who are always looking to expand their teams and are looking for... Chelmsford, Essex
Recruiter: Chelmsford City Council

Commercial Vehicle Technician

£30,000 per annum
Responsibilities as our Commercial Vehicle Technician will include... Chelmsford, Essex
Recruiter: Chelmsford City Council

Climate Change Project Support Officer

£30,451 - £32,234 per annum
This is an exciting opportunity to support for the development and delivery of the Council’s Climate Change Action Plan and... Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Corporate Fleet & Transport Manager

£65,382 - £68,898 Per annum
To create a place where everyone, whatever their background, has the opportunity to reach their potential and enjoy a good quality of life. London (Greater)
Recruiter: Islington London Borough Council

Senior Pest Control Officer

£34,209 - £36,708 p.a. inc.
You will need to be a self-starter and have a 'can do approach' to service delivery and problem solving. Brent, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Nuisance Control Officer

£36,708- £42,855 inc. plus £4,800 shift allowance p.a
We are looking for a proactive and committed person with a strong customer focus, exceptional communication skills and a practical approach to... Brent, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Engineer (Highway Development Control)

£32,910 - £35,745 per annum
You will need to have political awareness and good communication and negotiation skills, as well as experience of working with elected members. Calderdale, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council

Head of Traffic & Capital Delivery

£56,100 - £63,633 per annum
We are looking for a Head of Traffic and Capital Delivery to join us at this critical time for Hounslow. Reporting to... London (Greater)
Recruiter: Hounslow London Borough Council

Flood Risk Project Manager

£30,451 to £32,910
We are looking for a Flood Risk Managers to lead on the development and progression of our Flood Management Scheme, identifying and... Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Highways Presents

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Revealed: Legal costs on the rise

Also Inside:

  • In memoriam: Steve Berry – a highways hero
  • Carbon knowledge is power
View the latest issue

Latest Video