Skip to main content

Smart Motorways

Volume 690: debated on Thursday 11 March 2021

Highways England is delivering its plan for 2020 to 2025, with sets of all-lane running motorway schemes being delivered over the current road investment period. We have committed £500 million to ensure these motorways are as safe as possible.

Since its conversion to a smart motorway, the 10-mile stretch of the M1 between junctions 32 and 35A has seen an average of 68 breakdowns a month in live lanes. Each of these incidents has the potential to end in a tragedy. By contrast, in the three years prior to its conversion, not a serious incident occurred in which a vehicle was struck on the hard shoulder. When will the Government stop gambling with the lives of motorists and abandon these dangerous, ill thought out death traps?

I congratulate the hon. Lady for all her campaigning on this subject, and she knows that I share her passion. When I spoke to her a year ago today to explain the 18 different steps involved in the smart motorways stocktake, she warmly welcomed that work. Smart motorways have been under development since 2001 under the Blair-John Prescott Government. I think I am the first Secretary of State in 12 to carry out the stocktake and review, and I will not rest until these motorways are as safe as possible.