It looks like so-called “smart” motorways, which lack hard shoulders, are here to stay.

I have just had a response from the Department for Transport in answer to a query I made about these dice-with-death roads.

Describing them as All Lane Running (ALR) motorways the 600-word reply defends them saying that “in most ways ALR motorways are as safe as, or safer than, conventional motorways, but not in every way”.

It does not expand on this latter phrase.

The Department gives links to various information about these death-trap roads – including the fact that there are some 12 motorways with “smart” stretches where there are no hard shoulders. In normal times I use parts of three of those motorways. To say I will be scared when I use those roads is an understatement.

The Department goes on to say that it is planning “improvements” on technology to spot stopped or broken-down vehicles quickly and other actions – but these will not be completed until the end of September 2022.

I don’t think the civil servants in the Department have ever driven on motorways. Otherwise they would realise that it could be just seconds before a vehicle that breaks down on a live lane, which has no hard shoulder, could be hit by other vehicles with the occupants in danger of being killed.

A number of people in high office have questioned the introduction of “smart” motorways. The latest critic is Assistant Chief Constable Chris Todd, who oversees the West Midland police motorway patrols. A national newspaper reports that he has said he would not want his loved ones to use “smart” motorways.

It’s time Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, used some common sense and did a U-turn by returning live inside lanes back to hard shoulders.