After billions of pounds of our hard earned taxes have been spent, the government have decided that there isn’t enough evidence to suggest smart motorways are as safe as they first thought, so they’re canning the rollout of any new smart motorway schemes for five years.
The plan is to spend the next five years gathering safety data from the hundreds of miles of motorway that is already ‘smart’, before deciding whether or not it was a massive waste of money. Speaking of wasting money, keen to throw away some of the cash the Department for Transport are saving by pausing the rollout, they’ve vowed to spend £900 million to improve safety on all existing smart motorways. No, that’s not a typo; nine hundred million pounds, on roads they’ve already spent Christ-knows how much on ‘making safer’. The cost of turning a normal motorway into a smart motorway is in the region of £10m per mile. Ludicrous, I know.
A smart motorway, for any of you ruralites out there, is an ‘all lane running motorway’. It’s the ones that have variable speed limits and occasional red crosses on the overhead gantries. The idea is that at busy times, they can open up the what would have been the hard shoulder to help the flow of traffic. This only works if nobody ever breaks down though. And people obviously do break down. That’s why on a lot of these so-called smart motorways you have different speed limits every few miles; and of course the confusion that goes with it.
This aforementioned £900m will include £390 million to install 150 new emergency areas for drivers who ‘get into difficulty’. That’s great if you break down within rolling distance of one of these emergency areas; but they’re not a lot of use if you don’t. And hang on a minute. £390 million to install 150 new emergency areas? That’s £2.6 million each. Who have they got building them? My mate got his drive tarmacked for £1,500 last year, so I think they can do better than £2.6m each. I think the Right Honourable Grant Shapps MP need’s to shop around a bit, don’t you? The poor lads getting his pants pulled down. £2.6 million for a layby, I don’t bloody thing so. What the other £510 million is getting blown on, I dread to think.
Incidentally, this is what the Transport Minister Shappsy had to say about the whole debacle.
One of my first actions as Transport Secretary was to order a stocktake of smart motorways and since then, I have worked consistently to raise the bar on their safety.
It’s crucial that we go further to ensure people feel safer using them.
Pausing schemes yet to start construction and making multimillion-pound improvements to existing schemes will give drivers confidence and provide the data we need to inform our next steps. I want to thank safety campaigners, including those who have lost loved ones, for rightly striving for higher standards on our roads.
It shouldn’t take campaigners who have lost loved ones banging their drums to get the government to do something about this. Because let’s face it, we all know that having a motorway with no permanent hard-shoulder can’t be about safety. There’s nowhere to safely go if you break down.
Where do the emergency vehicles go? And having a motorway with speed limits that change constantly certainly can’t be about safety. It’s an absolute nonsense. And If the government canning smart motorway development for five years isn’t an admission from them, that they’re not actually working, I don’t know what is.
Of course, they’ll never admit it, but you and I know that the whole thing is all about money. The Department for Transport want to keep throwing money at smart motorways. And the government are happy to let them because every gantry has an incredibly lucrative ‘safety’ camera attached to it. I know that and you know that.
Although they’re telling us there will be no more work started on new smart motorways for the next five years, any construction work that’s begun will be completed. And at the rate the buggers go, it’ll probably be five years before any of them are finished anyway. Any schemes still in the planning stages will continue to be worked on, but only in the drawing room; there’ll be no shovels in the ground, so to speak.
So next time you hard-earned payslip comes through and you see how much the government are taking from you before you even get chance to see it, rest assured they’re not wasting any of it. They’re putting it all to good use. Every penny is being spent on improving the lives of you and your loved ones, making the roads safer, and definitely not lining their own pockets.