Drivers in the south and London have been familiar with the use of technology to control motorway use for some years now. Controlled motorways were first used on the M25 and we then had hard shoulder running which I first saw on the carriageways around Birmingham.
Now very large stretches of our motorway network are being converted to “all lanes running”. Named “Smart Motorways” by the government, it is important to know what they mean to you as a driver;
- No hard shoulders. If you need to stop you are advised to leave the motorway by the next exit. If this is not possible you should use one of the emergency refuge areas which are available every 2.5 km. You should call in on the telephone which is available in each refuge. Otherwise the advice is stay in your car, put on the hazard warning lights and call 999 on your mobile phone.
- Overhead signs. All overhead or Gantry or nearside signs must be obeyed. A red X over a lane means that that lane should not be used. Speed limits indicated over lanes must be observed. These limits are being enforced by digital cameras and are already catching out a number of drivers. This active traffic management is designed to maximise smooth traffic flow and ease congestion around accidents and incidents.
Statistics show that motorways are far and away the safest place to drive and there is evidence to show that these new measures further reduce accident rates. However, it is important to be aware that the variable instructions will be enforced if you are to avoid points on your licence or disqualification. More information is available at; https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/smart-motorways