Press Release – 17 February 2020

Luton MP finds that 93% of Luton road users support halting new ‘smart motorways’

A survey conducted by Luton North’s new MP Sarah Owen has found than an overwhelming 93% of road users would support halting the creation of new ‘smart motorways’ – a controversial scheme designed to ease congestion by using the hard shoulder either as a permanent extra lane or as an additional lane during busy times.

In the survey, it was found that over 93% of road users thought the roads were dangerous, and 91% supported a halt on the continued rollout of smart motorways. Some parts of the country where the schemes have been implemented have seen a 20-fold increase in accidents and near-misses. Near Luton, such accidents have recently claimed the lives of a students as well as two lorry drivers already this year. 

A 23-mile stretch of the M1 between Milton Keynes and Northampton is currently being converted at a cost of £373 million to the taxpayer.

The findings come as the government last month announced a suspension of the creation of new smart motorways, pending a review. The Luton North MP has been calling for the voice and experiences of road users to be included in any review.

One concerned road user who responded said: “I was stuck behind a broken down vehicle on inside lane. It was terrifying I thought I was going to be smashed into from behind.”

Another added: “The amount of near misses I’ve witnessed due to people being stopped on the inside lane before they have been noticed is hideous. As a general rule I see at least one a week, and I only travel 2 junctions. It’s terrifying to think how quickly a broken down vehicle could turn into a multi car collision!”

Luton North’s Labour MP Sarah Owen commented:

“The government must listen to the strength of feeling that I’ve found amongst people in Luton about smart motorways.”

“People are being killed in accidents on these roads. If they’re found to be less safe than a regular motorway, then surely, they can’t continue. That’s what has to be paramount here: the confidence and safety of road users.”

“I’m going to continue fighting to make sure that the voice of my constituents who are really worried about these roads is heard by the government and acted on.”