What is a Smart Motorway?
If you’ve driven on motorways across England within the last 2 years, chances are you’ve come across a smart motorway. Some of you may not have noticed a difference between being on a smart motorway or a normal motorway so we’ll give you some context.
A smart motorway is a stretch of a motorway that uses forms of active traffic management (ATM) to try and increase the capacity of the roads. Some forms of active traffic management include varying speed limits and more notably, using the hard shoulder as a running lane when there is busy traffic. There has been roughly 200 miles of motorway road in Britain converted from a traditional motorway to a smart motorway.
It is more than likely that you have driven passed ongoing works that are currently converting motorways into smart motorways such as on the M27 stretching from Eastleigh to Fareham.
The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has recently announced that the roll-out of smart motorways will come to a temporary stop whilst a review of the smart motorways is completed.
Work on a number of major projects that are due to be completed this year have been halted, which includes works on:
M20 in Kent
M62 in Greater Manchester
M23 near Gatwick Airport
M6 near Coventry
These announcements have come since new figures were recently released showing the potential hazards that are occurring as a result of these smart motorways. In figures released by BBC’s Panorama programme, it is stated that there have been 38 fatal incidents on smart motorways in the last 5 years. This is a staggering amount of deaths to have occurred and shows the risks that can come with these new motorways.
There is a general sense of concern amongst many drivers across the UK of the increasing danger that these smart motorways can cause. Many drivers fear being stuck in lanes of speeding traffic, with nowhere safe to pull over. Additionally, the AA has advised its crews not to stop on smart motorways because of safety concerns.
Although there is a halt to some of the works on smart motorways, as a driver there is still a high chance that you’ll come across one.
If you’re concerned about driving on smart motorways, you may wish to take one of our smart motorway CPC courses which will teach you about:
Different types of smart motorways
Signs and signals on smart motorways
Gaining skills and knowledge that will help you avoid potential hazards on smart motorways