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How are we supposed to use smart motorways…

September 11, 2018

In recent years the introduction of smart motorways has gathered pace and we have seen them pop up all over the United Kingdom, in some instances lengthy construction has taken place to add the extra lanes and systems required.

But what exactly is a smart motorway? A smart motorway increases the capacity of the road by making use of all available lanes including the hard shoulder, an active traffic management system is used to implement variable speed limits and the use of the hard shoulder at different times depending on the traffic situation.

What should you do while driving on a smart motorway? These three top tips will help you build up your confidence when driving on a smart motorway.

• Never drive in a lane with a red ‘X’ showing above it
• Keep to the variable speed limits implemented
• Only use the hard shoulder if it is signalled to do so

So, why are these three things so important? Recent figures released outline the importance of people paying close attention to the road and checking the road signs frequently. Drivers must ensure they are aware of any variable speed limits or lane closures that have been enforced, failure to comply with lane closures or speed limits could result in a £2500 fine. However, despite the potential of receiving this hefty fine it has been revealed that 20% of vehicles drove through the red ‘x’ last year.

On a smart motorway the red X is used to signal that a lane is closed which could be for maintenance, an accident or simply that there is not enough traffic to require the lane to be open. Any driver that decides to ignore the red X and lane closures is putting other road users at risk as well as themselves. Highways England has revealed that they have had to send out 130,000 warning letters to motorists failing to use lanes properly over the last two years.

There have been discussions about introducing an automatic camera system similar to speed cameras that will fine motorists who ignore the road signals, if this initiative is in introduced drivers could face a £100 fine for any offences.

The variable speed limit is another very important enforcement for people to stick to for a number of reasons. First of all, the speed limit is imposed for a reason which is to keep the traffic flowing at the safest possible speed. Secondly, more people have been issues with speeding fines on smart motorways than ever before, a total of 72, 348 people were fined on smart motorways in 2017.

Despite all of this it is important to remember that smart motorways have been built with the aim of increasing road safety for motorists. If we use them correctly and are educated about how they are supposed to operate it may help people to co-operate with them.


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