Claims have been made that an accident blackspot has emerged following the installation of a new smart motorway on the M25.

New figures show that from Leatherhead to Uxbridge spanning junctions 9 to 16, there were 1,772 accidents since 2014.

Further north from junctions 16 to 24 spanning Uxbridge to Potters Bar, there were 377 reported accidents in the same time frame.

Confused.com, which carried out the research, claims variable speed zones, installed as part of the smart motorway programme being rolled out across the UK, can see the legal speed limit drop from 70mph to as low as 20mph in order to control congestion.

The car savings website claims a survey it has conducted reveals nearly one in 10 (9%) drivers in South East England have had an accident, or know someone who has, as a result of a sudden speed change at variable speed camera zones.

The research further says nearly one in five (19%) people have had, or know someone who has had, a near-miss while travelling through these zones in the region.

According to its research, two in five (42%) motorists in South East England blame variable speed cameras for making people brake more suddenly, while a further quarter (25%) say there isn’t enough advanced notice before a change in speed.

More than 300 accidents were reported from junction 16 to 24 in three years

Many drivers are not completely clued up on the new smart motorway schemes, with one quarter (26%) of motorists in the region saying they are unfamiliar with variable speed cameras, the website said.

It claims its figures show the variable speed camera stretch on the smart motorway through Surrey is a "blackspot for accidents."

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, said: “The M25 through Surrey is known for being extremely busy all day every day, which alone is a heightened risk of accidents.

M25 named as UK's slowest motorway - but does it come as a surprise?

"And it seems that some motorists think variable speed zones on this stretch are a contributing factor.

“It’s clear that many drivers are still unfamiliar with smart motorways, and how these can land them with large fines.

Confused.com has claimed people are unfamiliar with smart motorways

"Not only this, but prosecutions and accident claims will also significantly increase car insurance premiums.

“It’s so important that drivers take note of the change in speed limit and reduce their speed safely, in plenty of time, in order to avoid sudden braking, and should always keep a safe distance from the car in front.”

Advice for driving on a smart motorway includes never driving in a lane closed by a red "x", keeping to the speed limit shown on the gantries, use refuge areas for emergencies if no hard shoulder and put hazard lights on in event of a breakdown.

A spokesperson from Highways England said: "Variable speed limits have been in place on the M25 since the 1990s and reduce stop-start congestion and by smoothing out traffic flow."

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