Road safety charity IAM Road Smart has carried out research that suggests we are concerned about driving on British roads. One of the major concerns from the 1004 motorists surveyed is the new smart motorways. Driving anxiety seems to be increasing, with 60% of those included in the survey having concerns about driving. In real terms, that would potentially calculate out to be 24 million drivers with concerns about driving out of the 40 million who hold a full UK driving license.
Smart Motorways Cause Anxiety
33% of the survey respondents have reported that smart motorways concern them the most, and it is thought to be because, among other things, they no longer have a hard shoulder. The traditional motorway with hard shoulder only concern is 6% of drivers. Compared to rural and single carriageway roads, where only 14% of drivers are worried that smart motorways are not being received well. Even when survey respondents were made aware that most road-related deaths occur on rural and single-track roads, they were still more concerned about smart motorways.
Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, Neil Greig, said: “Our research has laid bare the staggering number of people who feel worried about driving on Britain’s roads. We would encourage drivers to do all they can to re-educate themselves, especially during National Road Victim Month, on how to navigate the unique challenges and considerations each road type presents.”
Learning to Drive on Smart Motorways
One of the reasons that smart motorways cause such a problem could be the lack of awareness and familiarity we have about them.Statistics show that they are actually safer than conventional motorways and have fewer crashes that result in fatalities. However, drivers are still very reluctant to accept them and do not feel safe when driving on them. It has been suggested that the highways agency needs to do more to inform the public and raise awareness about smart motorways and driving safely on them.
Conversely, Neil Greig feels that more should be done to highlight how much more dangerous rural roads can be. Making a mistake on a confined single-track road can lead to death more often than on roads where there is more space. 40% of those surveyed said they were not worried about driving on any specific type of road, but that number is still not suggestive of overall driver confidence.
Does Fear or Complacency Cause Accidents?
Of course, neither scenario is good news for the accident risk. If motorists are anxious and nervous when driving on smart motorways, they increase the potential for accidents as they are not driving in a normal relaxed manner. With no fear of rural roads comes a complacency that can also mean more accidents are likely to occur because people are not paying attention and do not understand how little time you have to correct any mistakes or avoid accidents in situations where the roads are narrow and often with poor visibility due to bends.