Official: Smart motorways ARE deadlier

Death rates on smart motorways with the hard shoulder permanently removed are higher than those on conventional motorways, official figures show.

The revelation blows a hole in Transport Secretary Grant Shapps' claims that smart motorways are 'as safe as, or safer than' their conventional counterparts.

It also undermines a claim last week by Highways England's acting chief executive Nick Harris that they 'are the safest roads in the country'.

Evidence submitted to the Commons transport committee, which is investigating smart motorways, shows that in 2018 'live lane fatality rates' were more than a third higher on 'All Lane Running' (ALR) roads. 

These smart motorways have their hard shoulders permanently scrapped and converted into an extra lane, meaning motorists can become marooned in traffic rushing past them.

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In 2019, the live lane fatality rate on ALR roads was eight per cent higher than on conventional motorways.

Pictured: The scene of a double fatal crash on the M1 near Sheffield that killed Jason Mercer and Alexandru Murgeanu

Pictured: The scene of a double fatal crash on the M1 near Sheffield that killed Jason Mercer and Alexandru Murgeanu

The Department for Transport figures, which include collisions between moving and stationary vehicles, show death rates were lower on ALR roads – the most common form of smart motorway – in 2015, 2016 and 2017. 

But they overtook the rates on conventional motorways in 2018 and 2019. 

The figures show live lane fatality rates have surged on ALR motorways over the last five years as more miles of them have been rolled out. 

Meanwhile, the rate on conventional motorways has fallen.

The rates are measured as fatalities per hundred million vehicle miles travelled by drivers on the roads. On ALR smart motorways the rate was 0.19 in 2018 compared with 0.14 for conventional motorways – 35 per cent higher. 

In 2019 the figures were 0.14 and 0.13 respectively. Claire Mercer, whose husband was killed in 2019 after he pulled over on a section of the M1 with no hard shoulder, said: 'It shows the level of deceit we're dealing with. 

They are purposefully using the five-year figure rather than the two most recent years.' She added of smart motorways: 'It is insulting they carry on defending them, but the most serious thing is they carry on killing people.'

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Evidence submitted to the Commons transport committee, which is investigating smart motorways, shows that in 2018 'live lane fatality rates' were more than a third higher on 'All Lane Running' (ALR) roads

 Evidence submitted to the Commons transport committee, which is investigating smart motorways, shows that in 2018 'live lane fatality rates' were more than a third higher on 'All Lane Running' (ALR) roads

These smart motorways have their hard shoulders permanently scrapped and converted into an extra lane, meaning motorists can become marooned in traffic rushing past them

 These smart motorways have their hard shoulders permanently scrapped and converted into an extra lane, meaning motorists can become marooned in traffic rushing past them

Sally Jacobs, 83, whose husband Derek was killed on the M1 in 2019 after he pulled over

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