About 68% of drivers questioned by the RAC think removing the hard shoulder on the ever-increasing number of the country’s smart motorways compromises safety for those who breakdown in a live lane.
To increase capacity on the country’s busiest roads over one hundred miles of hard shoulder have been converted by Highways England into running lanes for traffic, many removed permanently on ‘all lane running’ smart motorways. On these stretches, SOS refuge areas are spaced up to 1.6 miles (2.5km) apart.
The RAC Report on Motoring 2019 found a considerable level of concern about the potential impact of breakdowns or accidents on safety and congestion on this new type of motorway.
Among those motorists who say they have driven on an ‘all lane running’ smart motorway, seven-in-10 (72%) are worried about not being able to reach an emergency SOS area if they break down. Only 10% are not bothered by this whereas nearly a fifth (18%) didn’t have an opinion either way.
Data for the RAC Report on Motoring also revealed six-in-10 drivers (59%) think the distance between SOS areas, at up to 1.6 miles (2.5km) apart, is too great, with only 13% disagreeing and 28% not expressing a view.
Only half of drivers who have driven on an ‘all lane running’ smart motorway (51%) say they know what to do if they break down and are unable to reach a refuge area, meaning the remainder are unclear.