A recent tragic incident on the UK motorway network has re-focused attention on recently introduced ‘smart motorways’ and in particular, how safe they are for road users in the event of a breakdown.

The incident occurred last month on the M1 motorway near Sheffield when a 62 year old woman, who was a passenger in a Nissan Qashqai car that had broken down, stepped into the road and was struck by another car, causing fatal head injuries.

Smart motorways, which are being introduced throughout the UK motorway network, are sections of a motorway that use a variety of traffic management methods to increase carrying capacity to help reduce congestion in particularly busy areas. Traffic management methods used include using the hard shoulder as an ‘active’ running lane and using variable speed limits to control the flow of traffic.

The main criticism of smart motorways has been focused on the use of the hard shoulder as an ‘active’ lane; whilst modern cars and other vehicles are generally far more reliable, what happens when a car does breakdown? Lack of a hard shoulder means that unless vehicles are fortunate enough to break down near a designated stopping area, they will have to stop in an active lane with other vehicles travelling at speeds of up to 70mph. Whilst a such a broken down vehicle should trigger safety signage on the motorway warning other drivers of a lane closure ahead, many question the safety of such a system on our busy, overcrowded motorways.

If you or a family member has suffered injuries from an accident that wasn't your fault, contact one of our friendly, professional team today for a no-obligation discussion and help. Get in touch on 0800 160 1296 or online here.