HAMPSHIRE Police Federation has stressed that public and police officer safety is paramount after the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps halted a £6bn rollout of new ‘Smart’ motorways.
The Government decision follows widespread concern about smart motorways, which use the hard shoulder as an extra lane.
Thirty-eight people have been killed on them over the past five years. The BBC’s Panorama programme revealed that on one section of the M25, outside London, the number of near misses had risen 20-fold since the hard shoulder was removed in April 2014.
Hampshire Police Federation Chairman Alex Charge said: “Public safety is paramount. Smart motorways were initially designed with intelligent computer systems to slow traffic down, but if that isn’t going to be delivered, it’s something that needs to be looked at.
“My roads policing colleagues make great efforts to reduce the number of fatalities on Britain’s roads. If the roads themselves are going to be very dangerous, that’s not just a potential increase in fatalities but also the cops I represent who go out on these roads will have to work in that dangerous environment.
“If there isn’t a hard shoulder, when cars are going past you at 70+mph, I’m not convinced that a yellow jacket is enough to protect you.
“There’s no safe area to work. My colleagues will have to potentially work in live lanes of traffic, and if you’ve ever stood by the side of a motorway as cars and heavy lorries are going past, shaking the ground, that’s a dangerous place to be. There needs to be a safe place where the public can escape to, but also where officers can work. I don’t think smart motorways provide that.”