Police chief urges PM to stop smart motorway rollout

Stop smart motorway rollout to prevent ‘any more deaths’, police chief urges Rishi Sunak in damning letter

  • PM previously pledged a ‘comprehensive ban’ on new smart motorways 
  • Transport Secretary Mark Harper failed to rule out building more of the roads 
  • Dr Alan Billingsis is now calling on the Prime Minister not to U-turn on the ban

A police chief has urged Rishi Sunak to halt the smart motorway rollout and prevent ‘any more deaths’.

The Prime Minister previously pledged a ‘comprehensive ban’ on new smart motorways after branding them ‘unsafe’.

But Transport Secretary Mark Harper later failed to rule out building more of the controversial roads.

South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billingsis now calling on the Prime Minister not to U-turn on the ban, describing the roads as ‘inherently dangerous’.

The Prime Minister previously pledged a ‘comprehensive ban’ on new smart motorways after branding them ‘unsafe

All-lane running smart motorways are designed to reduce traffic by allowing motorists to drive in the hard shoulder.

Control room operators, aided by CCTV cameras and a radar system, monitor the roads and close lanes during a breakdown or collision.

However, dozens of drivers have been killed on the roads, including some who have been left marooned in busy lanes of fastmoving traffic.

And in a damning letter to Mr Harper seen by the Mail, Dr Billings wrote: ‘I have consistently said that I believe they are inherently dangerous and we should be designing danger out of roads not building new hazards in.’

Dr Billings went on to say he was ‘encouraged by the opposition to smart motorways that the Prime Minister expressed’ in the leadership contests and ‘hoped this has not changed’.

National Highways is struggling to recruit employees who spot breakdowns and close lanes to prevent collisions, it was reported

He added: ‘I write, therefore, to urge you to look again at these motorways and would welcome a response from you which says you will do this.

‘We do not want to have any more deaths where our coroners conclude that the want of a hard shoulder is a contributory factor.’

Claire Mercer, whose husband was killed on a smart motorway in 2019, said: ‘It’s disgraceful that Mr Sunak and other politicians has used this as a political football.

‘In the meantime people are continuing to die on these roads and families are forced to pick up the pieces.’

Earlier this month the Mail revealed how motorists were facing a ‘smart motorway roulette’ because vital warning signs were being hit by outages.

And leaked emails sent by National Highways employees also revealed concerns over a shortage of control room staff.

Sarah Champion, a Labour MP who has been campaigning to ban smart motorways, said: ‘Smart motorways are deadly, and I have been telling the Government this for years.

‘It is not right that my constituents should be used as guinea pigs whilst the truth about these roads stares the Government in the face.’

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