The Government has been warned by the Transport Committee that their suggestion of all lane running schemes on motorways should not be implemented. They assert there are still safety concerns to be addressed. The Transport Committee released a report on the issue which stated here was more to be addressed before these all lane running schemes can be put into place.
Highways England consider the new motorway scheme a done deal but the Transport Committee do not agree.
All lane running motorway schemes allow drivers to use the hard shoulder as a traffic lane. The suggestion is that these schemes will be put in place permanently. They had previously been allowed just at peak times or during bouts of congestion.
The Transport Committee has rejected suggestions that the change would be a ‘logical extension of previous schemes’. It has highlighted that a permanent loss of the hard shoulder could be dangerous. It could also be a huge change for drivers to effectively respond to.
Speaking on behalf of the Committee, its Chair, Louise Ellman MP commented: “The permanent removal of the hard shoulder is a dramatic change. All kinds of drivers, including the emergency services, are genuinely concerned about the risk this presents.”
The Committee accept there need to be measures put in place to help to ease congestion on the motorways. However they are warning of the dangers of removing the hard shoulder, as it is existing to provide safety in emergencies.
Extension of Existing All Lane Running Schemes
Sections of the M25, M1 and M6 already offer all lane running schemes. However, the forecasts suggest motorway traffic may increase by as much as 60% from 2010 rates by 2040 a permanent solution is needed.
Highways England has already put in place plans to permanently convert the hard shoulder on over 300 miles of motorway around the country.This will include stretches of M3 and M23. Whilst the current schemes have been found to be a success, the thought that there may be no hard shoulder is quite alarming. As well as the Transport Committee organisations including the RAC and AA have shared their concerns about the riskiness of having no hard shoulder. They cite the spacing of emergency run off areas as not regular enough to provide safety.
The hard shoulder has always been in place for a reason and so removing it needs to be given serious thought, especially if no additional safety measures are put in place.