UK Smart Motorways

What are Smart Motorways?

2 Start Training have recently introduced a Smart Motorway CPC module. We have consulted with the Highways Agency and JAUPT to develop a course that provides LGV and HGV drivers with the knowledge to navigate smart motorways safely and easily.

What are Smart Motorways and how do they work?

What are Smart motorways?

A smart motorway is a section of motorway that uses traffic management to increase capacity and reduce congestion at peak times.  The hard shoulder can be used as an additional lane to ease congestion and variable speed limits can be used on lanes to manage the flow of traffic.

Why do we have smart motorways?

Evidence suggests that congestion on motorways is estimated to costs £2 billion a year to the UK economy.  Creating smart motorways provides extra capacity on busy motorways keeping traffic moving safely which supports local economies.

There is also a positive environmental impact to having smart motorways as they don’t require removal of green spaces to create additional lanes and there is also less standing traffic which lowers emissions.

How do smart motorways work?

When smart motorways start to become congested, an operator as the control centre can open the hard shoulder and set a variable speed to ease congestion and keep lanes flowing.  If there is an emergency, a lane closure can be implemented using a red cross on the overhead gantry.

Where are the current smart motorways?

There are currently approximately 236 miles of smart motorways in the UK with a further 200 miles planned or under construction.  There are smart motorways on the following motorways; M1, M3, M4, M5, M6, M20, M25, M26, M42, M60 and the M62

Who controls the smart motorways?

Highways England control the smart motorway network via a series of regional control centres that watch the vast number of cameras monitoring the roads.  The smart motorway technology can be controlled centrally, signs can be changed as well as variable speed limits to control traffic. 

What are the types of smart motorways?

Controlled Motorway – Multiple lane motorway with variable speed limits shown in the overhead gantries.  In an emergency the hard shoulder can be opened to emergency vehicles

Hard Shoulder Running – This type of motorway uses a variable speed limit during peak traffic and an operator at the control centre can open the hard shoulder as an additional lane.  Drivers are notified of lane open and closures by the signs on the overhead gantries.

All Lanes Running – This is the new standard for smart motorways, having been introduced in 2013.  There is no hard shoulder and all lanes are controlled by the overhead gantry.  Variable speed limits and lane closures can be controlled from the control centre.  There are refuge areas every 1.5 miles along the motorway. 

Where can I get more information about Smart Motorways?

You can get more information about smart motorways from the Highways Agency’s website. Click the link below

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