A COUNCIL leader has called for government to review the safety of smart motorways as work on the M27 continues.

Eastleigh Borough Council had previously asked for work on the country’s smart motorways to be stopped until further safety measures were put in place.

But since then, work has continued on one of the county’s newest smart motorway schemes on the M27 with no action taken and now preparations are moving forward to produce another on the M3 between Southampton and Winchester.

This comes as concerns have been raised over fatal incidents involving broken-down vehicles being hit from behind and on Monday, demonstrators protested the schemes outside Parliament.

Daily Echo: Cllr Keith House.Cllr Keith House.

Cllr House said: “Eastleigh Borough Council has already called on the Government to suspend the roll-out of smart motorways at least until Stopped Vehicle Detection is in place to improve safety.

“We have been given no such assurance about the M27 where works are at present in progress. The Government must urgently review the safety of all-lane running on smart motorways”.

A report released yesterday from the Commons’ Transport Select Committee claimed there is not enough safety and economic data to justify continuing the projects.

It said the Government’s decision last year to make future smart motorways all-lane running, where hard shoulders are used as permanent traffic lanes, was ‘premature’.

But Southampton Itchen MP, Royston Smith, said: “The evidence on the safety of smart motorways is contradictory. For example, if you look at data between 2015-2019 they appear safer but if you look at 2019 in isolation, they could be argued to be less safe.

“The Committee report is very thorough but not categoric. I know the Department of Transport are looking very closely at the report and the safety of motorways in general.”

There are currently about 375 miles of smart motorway in England, including 235 miles without a hard shoulder and an additional 300 miles scheduled to be open by 2025.

A Department for Transport spokesperson added: “We welcome the Transport Committee’s scrutiny and will now consider its recommendations in detail, providing a formal response in due course.”