Smart motorways could be rendered useless in a decade because they are not suitable for electric cars
- Driverless cars could also have trouble on the hard shoulder, it was claimed
- AA boss Edmund King said they could be ‘obsolete’ in the next ten years
- Comes after chiefs unveiled plans to turn parts of M4 and M5 into smart roads
Smart motorways could be rendered obsolete within a decade as they are not suitable for electric cars, it was claimed yesterday.
AA boss Edmund King warned the routes would be even more dangerous because it would not be possible to tow the stranded vehicles to safety.
He said driverless cars could also run into problems on smart motorways, where the hard shoulder is used as a regular traffic lane to ease congestion.
This eight mile section of the M4 is one of the locations planners want to turn into a Smart Motorway. Smart motorways could be rendered obsolete within a decade as they are not suitable for electric cars, according to AA boss Edmund King
Developers recommend if a motorist falls asleep in an autonomous vehicle then it should pull over in a safe place – but this may prove impossible with no hard shoulder.
Mr King said: ‘In their current guise, smart motorways could be obsolete within ten years due to the lack of emergency refuge areas.
A worker attaches a Mercedes star on an electric car of the type EQC
The precautions for breaking down on a smart motorway
Smart motorways are so dangerous that drivers must call 999 if they break down on them, a police leader warned yesterday.
Che Donald, vice-chairman of the Police Federation, said even a tyre puncture could be a life-or-death emergency.
He said: ‘It is inherently dangerous, our members are responding to these breakdowns. We know Highways England has a duty to assist, but I think their primary focus is more about the flow of traffic than the safety of people using those roads.’
AA boss Edmund King underlined the breakdown advice, adding: ‘If you can’t get out, keep your seatbelt on, put your hazards on and dial 999. That’s how serious it is.’ It came hours after John Apter, boss of the federation which represents rank and file officers, warned the roads were ‘death traps’. A total of 38 people have been killed in five years.
Mr King also said smart motorways – where the hard shoulder is used as a regular traffic lane to ease congestion – could be obsolete within a decade as they are not suitable for electric cars. He warned: ‘You can’t flat tow some electric vehicles more than 800 metres, some you can’t flat tow at all. So the problem is they will take longer to get off the motorways.’
‘You can’t flat tow some electric vehicles more than 800 metres, some you can’t flat tow at all.
‘So the problem is they will take longer to get off the motorways.’ He spoke out as transport chiefs unveiled proposals to turn parts of the M4 and M5 into nearly 30 miles of smart motorways.
Yesterday John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, warned that smart motorways were ‘death traps’.
Map showing the location of the proposed Smart Motorways on the M4 and the M5, and insetm the locations of the Smart Motorway network
Where are Britain’s ‘smart’ motorways?
Smart motorways’ are supposed to ease congestion by allowing cars to drive on the hard shoulder at least some of the time, with traffic being monitored via cameras and ‘active’ speed signs.
There are currently more than 20 sections of ‘smart motorway’ on seven different motorways, including on sections of the M1, the M25, the M6, the M42 and the M4.
Six more are under construction and another 18 are being planned.
However Highways England said a ‘comprehensive’ review of ‘smart motorways’ would be carried out after admitting lower limits were not always correctly set.
There are currently more than 20 sections of ‘smart motorway’ on seven different motorways, including on sections of the M25 and the M6
Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive, said that 40, 50 or 60mph limits were being set before congestion mounted on ‘smart motorways’ in England, using predictions about traffic levels.
Data has showed that 72,348 people were fined on motorways with variable speed limits last year. This was almost double the number a year earlier and a tenfold rise in five years.
Of those, two thirds of fines were handed out to motorists travelling at 69mph or below, even though the national speed limit is 70mph.
Highways England’s advice on driving on smart motorways includes a list of recommendations:
- Never drive under a red ‘X’ sign
- Keep to the speed limit shown on the gantries
- A solid white line indicates the hard shoulder – don’t drive in it unless directed by signs
- Broken white lines show a normal running lane
- Use the refuge areas for emergencies if there’s no hard shoulder
- Put hazard lights on if you break down.