The Continuing Dangers of Britain’s Smart Motorways

Deborah lewis portrait.

Deborah Lewis


Phone 01264 353411


According to a Freedom of Information Request by The Telegraph, and reported in the daily press, power outages during the Summer of 2023 caused the safety systems of Britain’s smart motorways to shut down a total of forty-one times. In particular, between April and August 2023, eight motorway locations in Britain had power outages lasting more than twenty-four hours.

It has been reported in the press that, here in the South of England, the M4 motorway in Berkshire had an outage lasting over one and a half days and similarly on the M27 motorway in Southampton power outages lasting over a day were experienced.

The data relating to power outages is significant, as smart motorways do not have hard shoulders and therefore rely upon control room operators having eyes on the road network and being able to close lanes or reduce speed limits in the event of queuing traffic or in an emergency. The lack of power to a smart motorway means that stopped vehicle detection systems fail, and control room operators are no longer able to view the road system through CCTV cameras, meaning that they cannot vary speed limit signs or illuminate safety signage, particularly if needing to close a lane in an emergency.

Whilst the government has put a halt on the construction of new smart motorways at present, road users of the M4 and M27 in our region are right to be concerned as to their safety, particularly in light of several serious accidents and deaths from those hit from behind after breakdowns on smart motorway lanes without the benefit of hard shoulders.

At Barker Son & Isherwood LLP we specialise in acting for clients who have suffered injuries from road traffic accidents. If you have been involved in an accident on a smart motorway or another part of the road network which you do not believe was your fault, and you have suffered injury, we would be pleased to assist you in pursuing a personal injury claim.

We can offer no win no fee type funding arrangements and can provide a prompt and personal service with face-to-face meetings available at our Andover office. If you would like to discuss bringing a personal injury claim, please contact Deborah Lewis, our Head of Personal Injury on 01264 353411 or

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