Smart Motorways Stocktake – Second Year Progress Report

16th May 2022

National Highways second 'Smart Motorways Stocktake' shows that once again smart motorways are our safest roads. We take a look at the highlights from this latest report and what more needs to be done.

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National Highways (NH) have recently published their second ‘Smart Motorways Stocktake’ – a progress report reviewing the latest safety data and evidence on smart motorways. As with their first year report, this report has once again shown that in terms of serious or fatal casualties, smart motorways are our safest roads. We’ve outlined some of the major headlines to come out of this latest smart motorways stocktake below, including major progress points, the ‘Driving on Motorways Campaign’, their response to the TSC report and key safety data.

2020 Action Plan Progress

As part of this second year stocktake, NH have given updates on the progress they have made based on the Action Plan they set out in 2020. Over the past year NH have:

  • installed over 330 additional signs informing drivers to the next place to stop in an emergency
  • put Stopped Vehicle Detection (SVD) technology on over 100 miles of All Lane Running (ALR) smart motorways
  • introduced an automatic ‘report of obstruction’ message to appear on electronic overhead signs which are triggered by SVD alerts
  • upgraded 96% of enforcement cameras to detect vehicles entering or driving in a Red X Lane
  • worked with the Department for Transport (DfT) and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) on the update of The Highway Code
  • provided more information to drivers aimed at increasing safety awareness of driving on motorway

Driving on Motorways Campaign

As part of their work to provide more information to drivers, NH rolled out a ‘Driving on Motorways Campaign’. This campaign focuses on increasing public confidence in the safety of smart motorways and helps to ensure drivers know the steps they need to take if they break down on a smart motorway. Taking a creative approach, the campaign centres on a documentary style film hosted by Suzi Perry and Ortis Deley, which you can watch below and find on their ‘Driving on Motorways’ hub.

2021 Transport Committee Report 

The current stocktake report acknowledges the Transport Committee Report that came out late last year, which resulted in the Government pausing the roll out of new ALR smart motorways until five years of safety and economic data is available. NH welcomed the scrutiny given by TSC and are fully committed to acting on all their recommendations, stating:

The pause on new ALR motorways gives us time to continue to listen and act upon customer and stakeholder feedback, together with collecting further safety and economic data.

Safety Data and Evidence

In September 2021 the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) recommended that NH use Personal Injury Collisions (PIC), Fatal and Weighted Injuries (FWI) and Killed and Serious Injuries (KSI) as the key metrics to assess safety on smart motorways. Based on these metrics NH have reported that:

  • there was not one type of smart motorway or traditional motorway that performed best against all three metrics


  • smart motorways performed better than conventional motorways on the casualty-focused FWI and KSI rates, and much better than A-roads for both collision and casualty rates
  • when a collision occurred on a traditional motorway it was more likely that it involved a killed or seriously injured casualty, than when a collision occurred on a smart motorway

What next?

The biggest issue facing smart motorways appears to be the scepticism of the general public. Despite smart motorways being our safest roads, the topic still remains highly polarising with many people criticising their roll-out. Despite NH’s best efforts to produce engaging safety content, it is still met with resistance, with one twitter user commenting:

The fact that NH have to post instructional videos only goes to show that they know smart motorways are highly dangerous.

This viewpoint is reflective of the difficulties in presenting safety information in the correct way. Clearly, more work needs to be done to address the public’s perception, as CIHT has called for, and this has been acknowledged by the Government and NH.


For more information on what CIHT has done in this area please refer to these articles:

How safe are smart motorways? | CIHT

CIHT gives evidence on Smart Motorways to Transport Select Committee | CIHT

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