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British drivers fear 'Smart' freeways

2014-05-09 10:25

BRITAINS SMART MOTORWAYS: The UK's Institute of Advance Motorists believes more information need to be supplied to drivers by the British Highways Agency as many drivers feel unsafe and are unsure how to use the country’s new Smart motorways.

LONDON, England - The UK's Institute of Advance Motorists (IAM) is calling for more information and advice for drivers about the safety of the country's so-called "Smart" freeways.

The roads have no "hard shoulder" lane for emergencies and a survey by IAM shows that 71% of participants would feel less safe driving on such a road.

One of the main concerns of respondents is the plan to increase the distance between safety refuges (i.e places for a car to park in an emergency or breakdown) with 48% of respondents believing that safety refuges should be no more than 450m apart.


Stopping anywhere else would mean a car being in the way of traffic travelling at 130km/h. According to the survey, 40% of respondents did not believe proposed monitoring systems, such as electronic signs, would protect them.

Other survey findings include:

• 67% of respondents said they had not seen publicity about the motorways.
• 32% would support the legalising of overtaking on the left on Smart motorways. (Passing currently is only allowed on the right, but the rule is often ignored. It has been a key to UK motorway travel for half a century. - Editor)
• 42% believe Smart motorways have reduced congestion and 43% said journeys have been made faster.

IAM chief executive, Simon Best, said: “Smart motorways are being rolled out across England but our survey shows that drivers want more reassurance and information on how safe they will be and how to use them.

"The IAM has been supportive of hard-shoulder running but we have always said that the Highways Agency must be quick to learn and implement any real world lessons as more schemes come into use.”

IAM guidance on using Smart motorways:

According to te IAM, drivers should pay attention to overhead gantries as they provide information on traffic conditions and lane access for the road ahead.

The six signals are:

 • A red cross without flashing beacons - The hard shoulder is only for use in an emergency or breakdown.
 • A speed limit inside a red circle - It is absolutely mandatory and may have cameras enforcing it.
 • A blank signal - Normal freeway rules apply.
 • A white arrow with flashing beacons - This applies to all lanes and means you should move into the lane to which the arrow points.
 • A red cross with flashing beacons - You should not continue to use the lane.
 • A national speed limit sign is shown - The national speed limit, 130km/h, applies to all lanes apart from the hard shoulder.

Types of motorways:

Controlled motorway – These have three or more lanes with variable speed limits. Hard shoulder use is strictly for emergency use only.

Hard shoulder running – The hard shoulder will be opened at busy times and the speed limit will be reduced. IAM said: "Don’t use the hard shoulder unless overhead signs show that you can do so."

All lanes running – There is no hard shoulder on these sections of the motorway. IAM said: "Obey the variable speed limits and do not stop on the motorway. In the event of an emergency, use an emergency refuge area, motorway service area or exit at the next junction."

Do you think government should get rid of the hard shoulder on our roads? Should South Africa adopt Smart highways? Email usand we'll publish your thoughts on Wheels24.
Read more on:    england  |  london  |  roads  |  traffic

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