A MOTORING organisation has voiced safety concerns after plans for a new smart motorway were revealed.

The AA say it's "only a matter of time" before a fatality occurs when the £244million upgrades to the M27 are finished.

The plans to convert the hard shoulder from junctions four at Rownhams to 11 of the M27 into a live lane have come under fire from the driving organisation - who say that drivers are less likely to use lane one "out of fear" of coming across a broken down vehicle.

But Highways England say drivers around the UK are already using the new motorways "without safety

being adversely affected."

It comes as plans for the upgrade were revealed by Highways England with work due to start in August this year.

They say technology - which will use sensors on the motorway to monitor traffic and send information to a central control room - will reduce congestion by up to 33 per cent.

And they estimate that daily vehicle use is set to rise from 140,000 vehicles a day now to 170,000 vehicles in fifteen years' time.

In the new plans emergency laybys every two kilometres will be painted orange and fitted with a emergency phone.

Speed cameras will be placed along the 15 mile stretch and drivers will be told what the variable speed limit is via signs installed on gantries.

CCTV cameras will help manage traffic flow and incidents.

Running back to back with roadworks on the M3 will mean five years of traffic misery for Hampshire drivers - with works at junction 10 due to start next year and end in 2023.

Speaking to the Daily Echo RAC spokesperson Jack Cousens said the RAC "would like" emergency laybys to be 800metres apart.

He said: "Our members have broken down on a live lane on smart motorways and vulnerable vehicles have been hit. Fortunately these accidents have not resulted in any severe accidents. However it could only be a matter of time before a fatality occurs."

He added that a survey of up to 18,000 AA members showed that drivers are "less likely" to use lane one and said: "Their most common reason was for fear of coming across a broken down vehicle in lane one. So why install them if they are not going to be used?"

The Taxpayers' Alliance chief executive said drivers would rather cash is spent on road repairs.

John O'Connell said: "Motorists are taxed incredibly heavily in this country, and the taxes taken from them are much higher than the investment into the roads. Most would prefer that investment focus on sorting out filling in potholes, rather than huge spending on more speed cameras."

Leader of Fareham Borough Council Councillor Sean Woodward said he is "delighted" at the start date and said: "I've been campaigning for this for the last decade. The reality is we are not going to reduce the number of cars on the road. If we can keep the car numbers stable we are doing very well."

Work will be completed in six phases, with "cones on the road" from November this year according to Highways England's John Henderson.

He said: "Smart motorways are designed with safety in mind and the evidence from operating them shows that they have successfully improved journeys while maintaining high levels of safety.

“There will be 13 emergency areas on the M27 smart motorway - one every 1.2 miles on average.”