Smart Motorways: 'Would you rather get somewhere 20 minutes late, or be killed?'

22 February 2021, 11:02

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

"Would you rather get somewhere 20 minutes late, or be killed?"- Nick Ferrari questions the safety of smart motorways.

Nick Ferrari questioned if there were not "mixed messages" with the Government "working flat out to make sure you don't die of Covid, but meanwhile is sanctioning turning hard shoulders into moving lanes of traffic where people are dying."

Neil Greig the Director of Policy and Research at IAM Roadsmart, the UK's leading road safety charity spoke to LBC about the matter.

Mr Greig told LBC smart motorways have "not been delivered as promised, they're not as smart as they should have been."

When Nick asked the road safety campaigner if he supported "turning off" the smart motorways, Mr Greig said he was willing to "give them one more chance."

"How many more deaths will that cause?" Nick challenged.

To which the reply was "there are always deaths on motorways."

The ensuing debate led to LBC presenter Nick Ferrari asking the road safety campaigner a very direct question.

"Would you rather get somewhere 20 minutes late, or be killed?"

This led to what can only be described as a classic LBC confrontation when Nick took the campaigner to task over the issue of smart motorways and safety.

The conversation comes after a police boss said a smart motorway which has featured in two recent inquests should be scrapped following another serious crash.

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Dr Alan Billings said one occupant of a stationary car in a live lane on the M1 had to be airlifted to hospital after a lorry collided into it.

He has repeatedly criticised the smart motorway on the M1 which has no hard shoulder on that stretch and last year called it "inherently dangerous".

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "Since taking office, the Transport Secretary has committed £500 million to smart motorway safety improvements and has recently pressed Highways England to further accelerate work in certain areas.

"The safety and peace of mind of drivers and passengers using these routes remains our priority."

A Highways England spokesperson said: "We want to do everything we can to make our motorways as safe as possible.

"In March 2020, the Government published a smart motorway evidence stocktake report which found that in most ways smart motorways are as safe as, or safer than, conventional ones.

"We are aware of the ongoing concerns from Dr Billings and others and we are working hard to deliver the improvements set out in the Transport Secretary's action plan."