Derbyshire police attend fewer crashes on smart motorway

Smart motorways are controversial.
Smart motorways are controversial.

Derbyshire police have attended fewer crashes on a stretch of the M1 since it became a smart motorway, it has emerged.

Figures obtained by the Derbyshire Times under the Freedom of Information Act show Derbyshire Constabulary's officers were called to 124 collisions between junction 28 (Alfreton) and junction 31 (Aston) in the year before the smart motorway was introduced.

In the year after it was brought in, police attended 52 crashes there.

The latest figures show that between the end of last March and the start of this January, police have been called to 20 collisions on the stretch.

EXTERNAL LINK: How to drive on a smart motorway, according to the Government

Highways England - which did not want to comment on the drop in the number of collisions - launched the £205million smart motorway in 2016.

Smart motorways involve using the hard shoulder for traffic unless a red X sign indicates it is closed, usually because of an accident or a broken down vehicle.

As well as the M1, parts of the M4, M5, M6 and M42 have already been converted into smart motorways.

There are another 480 smart motorway lane miles being planned in England.

One AA poll found that eight out of 10 drivers think that the removal of hard shoulders on smart motorways has made motorways more dangerous than four years ago.

But in a letter to the Government, Jim O'Sullivan, chief executive of Highways England, said: "Evidence demonstrates that smart motorways deliver comparable levels of safety to traditional motorways."

From March, in a bid to increase safety on smart motorways, there will be harsher penalties for drivers found using lanes with a red X sign.