Are Smart Motorways Smart Enough?

Smart Motorways

The motorway system in England these days, is groaning under the weight of traffic, and given the restrictions of a small island, building many more isn’t a feasible solution.

Enter the “smart” motorway, or, “making more of what we’ve got”.

New “smart” technology has allowed the Highways Agency to develop the managed motorway into sections which use active traffic management techniques to ease the movement of greater vehicle numbers using three slightly different Hi-tech systems.

Perhaps the most contentious is the All Lane Running, on which the hard-shoulder is effectively turned into a full time additional carriageway.

There are refuge areas every 2.5 km, which are fine if you can manage to time your breakdown that accurately.

There are variable speed limits dictated by overhead gantry and verge side signage, in response to weight of traffic. If an incident occurs, and the hard shoulder is wanted back, a red cross signifies the lane out of bounds.

This can also apply to other lanes, in rapid response to changing situations.

The whole section of motorway is closely monitored by CCTV and control centre response by lane closure, openings and speed limit variations can be rapid.

Some motorists are still sceptical of the safety aspects, also of the speed cameras accuracy to follow the changes. If you have been caught for an alleged offence on a smart motorway, call Patterson Law, leading UK motoring solicitors and ask them about how best to defend your offence…. the initial call is free and will guide you in the best direction to get the most favourable outcome.

The Dynamic Hard Shoulder Running Scheme keeps the hard shoulder free for emergencies, but at times of heavy flow, or congestion, it is brought in as an extra lane.

Again, constant attention is needed from the control centres to monitor and adjust the speed limits and lane uses.

The overhead and verge side signs giving instructions as to lane availability and mandatory speed limits, should the hard shoulder lane show a red cross or blank, then it has reverted to emergency use only.

The Controlled Motorway is a conventional layout, with the hard shoulder permanently designated for emergencies only, but with enhanced CCTV giving variable speed limits with different traffic densities.