Concern that motorists don't understand smart motorways

Campaign group says that drivers are still unaware of what different motorway signs mean

It's been one year since the Highways Agency launched its smart motorway schemes, but the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has raised concerns that drivers are still confused by how to use them.

Part of the Agency's 'all-lane running' motorway project - which turns the hard shoulder in to an extra lane to ease congestion - was launched last April and replaced Managed Motorways.

The scheme was first used on a stretch of the M25, with similar operations then opened up on the M1, M4, M5, M6, M42, and M62. In addition all systems use lane control, overhead gantries and emergency refuge areas.

England's busiest A-roads could become 'mini-motorways'

However, the IAM says that motorists remain concerned about the saftey of cars that do break down and the distance between the safety refuge area.

The IAM conducted a survey on the introduction of smart motorways last year, which found 71 per cent of drivers said they would feel less safe on a motorway with no hard shoulder than a motorway with one.

Some 40 per cent of respondents said they were sceptical that new monitoring systems on smart motorways, such as traffic detectors and CCTV, would protect them in the event of stopping in a running lane.

£15bn allocated for road upgrades

Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said “There are many different motorway users out there and some are still confused and nervous about using smart motorways – if they are aware of them at all.

“Highways England must analyse incident data on a continuous basis and ensure that any lessons learned from the real world use of smart motorways are implemented quickly. Ultimately, the smartest way to build awareness would be to allow learner drivers to use motorways under expert supervision.”

If you feel in the dark about how smart motorways work, here are a few tips on what the overhead signs mean:

  • • A red cross without flashing beacons indicates the lane is only for emergencies. If it has flashing beacons then do not use the lane at all.
  • • A speed limit inside a red circle means the lane is open to use at or below that limit.
  • • A white arrow with flashing beacons: This applies to all lanes and means you should move into the lane which the arrow points to.

Recommended

Delayed trailer test law changes come into force
Mitsubishi L200 - tow
News

Delayed trailer test law changes come into force

You no longer need to take an extra test to tow a trailer, irrespective of when you passed your driving test
17 Dec 2021
Gridserve announces raft of new motorway electric car charging hubs
Gridserve Electric Forecourt 3
News

Gridserve announces raft of new motorway electric car charging hubs

Gridserve planning a total of 20 Electric Hubs and six Electric Forecourts, with 13 sites already under construction
9 Dec 2021
Stellantis plans huge revenues with new software-driven cars
Fiat 500 dash
News

Stellantis plans huge revenues with new software-driven cars

Stellantis says it’ll rake in more than €20 billion in annual revenues by 2030 thanks to its new technology and subscription services
7 Dec 2021
Company car tax guide 2021/2022: everything you need to know
Executive saloons make popular company cars
Consumer news

Company car tax guide 2021/2022: everything you need to know

Company car tax is bound up in a complex net of emissions, salaries and a car's value; we explain how the system looks for the 2021/22 Financial Year
26 Nov 2021

Most Popular

What are 4D number plates and are they legal?
number plates
Tips & advice

What are 4D number plates and are they legal?

Everything you need to know about so-called ‘4D’ number plates, including whether you’re allowed to have them on your car
25 Jan 2022
Best electric cars to buy 2022
Best electric cars
Electric cars

Best electric cars to buy 2022

There are more electric cars than ever to choose from, so we've picked some of the best you can buy in the UK now
10 Jan 2022
New 2022 Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4 hits the road for the first time
Lamborghini Countach - front
Lamborghini Countach

New 2022 Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4 hits the road for the first time

Lamborghini’s reborn Countach pictured on the move ahead of it arriving with customers
25 Jan 2022