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Just how dangerous are smart motorways?

They have cut journey times, raised the capacity of Britain’s busiest roads, and saved money—but there's a reason why smart motorways are hated

By Alexis Self  

A survey by road safety charity Brake found that less than half of UK motorists knew the rules for using smart motorways. Photo: Paul Pickard / Alamy Stock Photo

Smart technology is everywhere. It’s in our televisions, our toothbrushes, and on our roads. But while—outside of a Stephen King story—the first two probably won’t kill you, if something goes wrong with the latter, the results will likely be catastrophic.

Last week, Sheffield’s city coroner, investigating an accident on the M1 in 2019, concluded that smart motorways carry “an ongoing risk of future deaths.” His verdict was followed by an intervention from South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, who labelled the roads “inherently dangerous.”

Suddenly, smart motorways, designed as much to reduce the discussion of traffic…

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