Truss ready to scrap smart motorways and look at making speed limits advisory

Liz Truss has said she would scrap smart motorways and is ready to consider ending compulsory speed limits on them if she becomes prime minister next week.

The foreign secretary made the comments in response to a question from a Conservative Party member at its final hustings event of the race to succeed Boris Johnson as leader.

Smart motorways, which include variable speed limits and the use of hard shoulders as carriageways at busy times, are controversial with many Tory members after claims that they increase the risk of accidents.

A Conservative member of the audience at the Wembley hustings, identified only as David, told Ms Truss: “Smart motorways kill. They also cause long delays because they close lanes off when there’s a breakdown, which is a problem for people who have to drive as part of their job.

“They also often impose very low speed limits – mandatory ones – much lower than necessary.

“So will you restore hard shoulders to all motorways and, in the meantime, will you change the speed limit from mandatary to advisory to allow drivers to make their own judgements on what is a safe speed, rather than having some overcautious man in a remote box decide the speed limit for them?”

Ms Truss replied: “I agree with you. I absolutely think that we need to review them and stop them if they’re not working as soon as possible. All the evidence I have agrees with the point you’re making on smart motorways.

“On speed limits, I’d be prepared to look at that. I can’t give you a precise answer on that point. But I do believe that the smart motorways experiment hasn’t worked.”

Asked by moderator Nick Ferrari, of LBC radio, if she would “stop smart motorways”, Ms Truss replied simply: “Yes.”

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