Motoring: Plan to Scrap Hard Shoulders under Fire; More Deaths and Serious Injuries on Motorways Forecast
Byline: Robin Roberts
A GOVERNMENT plan to scrap the motorway hard shoulder threatens to result in more deaths and serious injuries on the roads, says motoring organisation RAC.
Proposals by transport secretary Alistair Darling, will see hard shoulders being used as an extra running lane at busy times of the day. The scheme has been tested in the Midlands and will now be implemented at other sites where there is heavy congestion at peak times.
RAC traffic experts are convinced that this will put motorists' safety in serious jeopardy because uncertainty about when the hard shoulder can and cannot be used will lead to more collisions.
RAC believes that far too little research has been conducted in the UK on the safety of these new proposals and that there has been virtually no meaningful consultation with safety bodies, emergency services and motorists.
A recent trial in the Netherlands showed that 40 vehicles an hour used the hard shoulder as a running lane when they were not permitted to do so.
A vehicle pulling onto the hard shoulder in these circumstances had, on average, 1.5 minutes before another vehicle would potentially run into it.
Some 250 people are killed or injured each year on the hard shoulder, with an annual average of two fatalities among breakdown or recovery vehicle operators. The hard shoulder, even as it is currently operated, is a very dangerous environment in its own right.
The move also backtracks on a specific commitment given to Parliament that a trial of hard shoulder running set to begin on the M42 will be judged before wider approval would be given to expand the schemes. …