CHANGES to the way smart motorways are managed are likely to help road safety, according to experts.
GEM Motoring Assist has welcomed plans to provide more refuge areas for motorists who suffer a breakdown but has cautioned risks will remain.
The organisation, which was one of many to express concern at the risks posed by the absence of hard shoulders, says that that many drivers who break down still face the prospect of being stranded on the carriageway.
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth said: "The toll of deaths, injuries and near-misses on smart motorways in recent years is unacceptably high, so we are relieved that the government has listened to the valid concerns of road safety groups.
"We remain concerned that enough is being done to reduce risk for those motorists unfortunate enough to experience a breakdown on a stretch of smart motorway.
"Although under these plans there will thankfully be more places to pull over in an emergency, we warn that many drivers who break down will still face the real risk of finding themselves stuck on the carriageway, with no protection whatsoever."
The newly-announced government plans include scrapping the use of motorway hard shoulders at busy times, increasing in the number of places vehicles can stop in an emergency on motorways where hard shoulders have been removed, increasing the number of traffic officer patrols, providing better signage and improving public information and awareness including what to do in an emergency.