OLDHAM West and Royton MP Jim McMahon has backed the delay in building smart motorways but is now calling on the government to “reinstate the hard shoulder”.

The former Shadow Transport Secretary has previously met with families of victims who have died after being involved in accidents related to smart motorways.

He has campaigned for the pausing of the rollout of such highways due to worries that they are considered to be unsafe by many.

There are smart motorways near to Oldham on the M60 and M62, which include all lane running (ALR) stretches.

Following the widespread outcry from people to stop building smart motorways, the government announced this week that construction work will stop until more research into their safety is carried out.

The government said that in line with the Transport Committee’s most recent recommendations, the rollout of new ALR smart motorways will be paused until a “full five years’ worth of safety data becomes available for schemes introduced before 2020”.

“After this point, the government will assess the data and make an informed decision on next steps”, the Department of Transport (DfT) said.

Oldham West and Royton MP, Jim McMahon said, “Having campaigned for the pause of the smart motorways programme with families of those tragically killed I pay tribute to their dedication.

“This pause is obviously a welcome move, but now ministers should go one step further, prioritise passenger safety and reinstate the hard shoulder.”

The DfT said it is investing £900m to improve safety on ALR motorways.

The department said data shows smart motorways are “comparatively the safest roads in the country in terms of fatality rates” but the government will ensure current smart motorways without a permanent hard shoulder are equipped with “best-in-class technology and resources to make them as safe as possible”.

This will include forking out £390m to install more than 150 extra emergency areas so drivers have more places to stop if they get into difficulty.