Smart motorways put on HOLD after roads are linked to 24 deaths since 2015

WORK on smart motorways is being halted to gather more safety data.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has axed plans for new projects until he has another five years of stats.

The roads use the hard shoulder as an extra lane and also have temporary speed limits.

But at least 24 broken-down drivers or passengers have died on them since 2015.

Mr Shapps accepted a report by the Transport Select Committee, while pledging £390million for more emergency refuge areas — set at least every three quarters of a mile.

New projects planned for the M3, M40, M62 and M25 will be put on hold.

Others which are already under way will continue until they are complete.

Tech to spot stranded cars will be tested more rigorously.

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Ministers will look into reintroducing hard shoulders on all motorways through the night.

Mr Shapps said: “Initial data shows smart motorways are among our safest roads but it’s crucial we go further to ensure people feel safer using them.”

Committee chair Huw Merriman stressed: “It is important this extra time is spent on ­making these motorways safer — not just on evaluation.”

The AA’s Edmund King said Mr Shapps had taken a “positive and pragmatic” approach.

He added: “Whilst smart motorways will never be perfect, considerable progress has been made to make them safer.

"We’ll hold the Government to account.”

Tragically, 53 motorists and passengers died on smart motorways between 2015 and 2019.

Of those, 18 deaths have been blamed on confusion over how the roads operate.

Smart motorways have been criticised for their slower speeds and lax health and safety rules.

Emergency refuge areas should be available around very half mile – but most Brits aren't sure how to wait safely at the roadside.

The government launched an urgent inquiry into the controversial new roads last September after a number of speed cameras were found to be pointing towards the sky.

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