The agency confirmed there are concerns among road users surrounding the schemes and even admitted they are not as safe in every possible scenario as conventional motorways. However, Highways England still backed the project before adding UK motorists were “among the safest in the world”.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, a Highways England spokesperson confirmed measures would be taken to address safety concerns.
This includes updates to the Highway Code and a new marketing campaign aimed at informing drivers of the changes.
They said: “We recognise there are ongoing concerns about smart motorways and are determined to do all we can to make all drivers both feel safe and be safer on our roads.
“Our motorways are among the safest in the world, and the Government’s evidence stocktake established that in most ways smart motorways are at least as safe as, or safer than, the conventional motorways they replaced. But not in every way.
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A total of 81 percent of road users said they felt less safe travelling on smart motorways than on a normal one.
More than 80 percent said hard shoulders should be immediately reinstated on roads and safety refuge bays placed at 500 metres or less.
IAM RoadSmart has called for appropriate funding to speed up delivery of refuge bays, CCTV cameras and stopped vehicle detection.
Chief executive Neil Greig said: “Our members include many high mileage, experienced and confident motorway users but the results of this survey are clear to see, with the vast majority having very little, or no confidence, in the safety of smart motorways.
“We would urge the Department for Transport and Highways England to listen to what smart motorway users are saying and to consider our findings, along with other in-depth research, to determine the best approach to developing the smart motorway network.
“Delaying decisions on smart motorways will only lead to more drivers getting stressed.”
The controversy surrounding the roads has even led to an investigation being launched by the Commons Transport Select Committee.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has previously told the Committee he “inherited” smart motorways and intended to “get rid of confusions”.
The 18 point action plan included abolishing dynamic hard shoulders which are opened up for flowing traffic during busy periods.
The plan also includes the installation of more stopped vehicle technology to better identify stricken cars.
Reducing the distance between refuge bays and making emergency areas more visible is also included.