Seven-in-10 drivers want the hard shoulder to be reinstated on the 235 miles of existing all-lane-running smart motorways, regardless of the government claiming it would be too disruptive and costly, according to new research by the RAC.
The RAC believes this week’s decision to scrap 14 all-lane-running schemes needs to be quickly followed by the reinstatement of hard shoulders as this is clearly what a majority of drivers are expecting.
Just 31 per cent of drivers saying the hard shoulder should not be restored.
RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said: “While we’re pleased the Government reached the same conclusion that many drivers already have by cancelling future smart motorway schemes which would have seen around dozens more miles of hard shoulder disappearing forever, as things stand, by the end of this year there will still be 250 miles of motorway in England without hard shoulders – that’s around 13 per cent of the complete network.
“Installing additional refuge areas and radar technology to help spot stricken vehicles is welcome and necessary, but for most drivers this doesn’t go far enough.
“Many felt they were dangerous from the outset and now it’s clear the Government has totally lost faith in these types of road as well.
“Today, it remains the case that anyone unlucky enough to break down who can’t get to an emergency refuge area remains incredibly vulnerable where the hard shoulder has been taken out.
“The Government claims that reinstating the hard shoulder would ‘come at a significant cost’ and be ‘too disruptive’ but our research shows drivers clearly don’t buy this.
“Certainly, it’s regrettable that so much public money has already been spent on such deeply unpopular roads, but will the driving public accept anything less than the return of the hard shoulder?
“What’s more, the Government is making a saving of more than £1bn by virtue of it deciding to cancel future smart motorway schemes in the first place.
“We continue to believe that reinstating the hard shoulder on all stretches of road where they’ve been converted into a permanent fourth lane is the right thing to do.”