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Advice on use of Smart motorways

Jul 03, 2016
The Department for Transport has released information, including a video simulation, for drivers about how to use the new Smart motorways.

Most of the information is obvious for experienced drivers such as: a red X means that the lane is closed. However, some of the information, particularly that relating to breakdowns, is not so obvious.

The regulations say that, in an emergency, “All motorists should be able to make their own recovery arrangements in the event of a breakdown or accident. We strongly advise that you have breakdown cover and carry details of this with you.”  So it is your responsibility, as the driver, to organise breakdown cover and to arrange for your vehicle to be recovered.  In that respect it is not the same as driving in a width-restricted area where breakdown cover is provided.

The advice goes on to say: “Always try to leave the smart motorway immediately if your vehicle is damaged or experiences difficulties. If that’s not possible, move into the nearest emergency area.  Each refuge contains an emergency telephone that connects you free of charge to a Highways England traffic control centre. They will either send a traffic officer to help you, or set the motorway signs to temporarily clear lane 1. Do not attempt to leave your vehicle unless you are next to the edge of the motorway, with no ‘live’ traffic lane between your vehicle and the verge. Make sure you leave the car via the left hand doors. Move as far from the road as you can.”

It’s hard to imagine how All Lane Running (ALR) as it’s called, can be as safe as the old system where there was a hard shoulder.  There is, however, evidence to show that the safety performance of ALR is no worse or slightly better than a conventional motorway.  Highways England admits that a further two years of evidence will be needed to confirm this. It is clear that safety is highly dependent on motorists obeying the overhead signage and, apparently, 7% of drivers ignore the red X.  

Photo: The DfT video explains All Lane Running, among other features of Smart motorways.

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