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Written on 22nd April 2021 by Claire Roantree

A leading personal injury lawyer from a Thames Valley law firm has welcomed the government’s announcement accelerating safety measures for smart motorways, but expressed concerns that it does not go far enough.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced that new smart motorways must have radar technology that detects stopped vehicles in place before they open. The technology will be installed on all existing smart motorways by September 2022, six months earlier than originally promised.

The new measures will also include upgrading cameras to spot and prosecute motorists who create additional danger by ignoring the red X signs and driving along closed lanes.

Claire Roantree, a partner in the personal injury team at Reading law firm Boyes Turner said: “There have been a series of fatal collisions on smart motorways. Hard shoulders are converted into active traffic lanes on these roads, which means that there is no safe refuge for people who break down.

The Government expects traffic to increase by 60 per cent by 2040 and smart motorways have been built to accommodate that, but they are clearly a danger. I expect we will continue to see more accidents. These safety measures are too little, too late.

Through her practice Claire Roantree has seen first-hand the impact that serious and fatal collisions can have on families. She said: “When we see figures about deaths in news reports it can seem quite abstract, but every person killed on a smart motorway has a family who will be devastated by their death. Like ripples in a pond, the grief and trauma can last for years and for some people will never go away.

The radar technology to spot stopped vehicles on existing smart motorways won’t be in place until September 2022. I worry how many more people will die on these dangerous roads before then.”