Smart motorways are designed to make use of the hard shoulder and are managed by the Highways Agency regional control centres. They use CCTV so that Highways Agency traffic officers can be deployed to incidents if they occur and help to keep traffic moving.
Different types of smart motorway include:
– Controlled motorway – Controlled motorways have three or more lanes with variable speed limits. The hard shoulder should only be used in a genuine emergency.
– Hard shoulder running – The hard shoulder will be opened at busy times and the speed limit will be reduced. Drivers cannot use the hard shoulder unless overhead signs show that you can do so.
– All Lane running – There is no hard shoulder on these sections of motorway. Variable speed limits must be obeyed and no stopping is to be allowed on the motorway. If a motorists needs to stop in an emergency, they must use an emergency refuge area, motorway service area or leave at the next junction.
– A red X symbol will show that a lane is closed because of an incident or people working in the road.
Simon Bush of Britannia Driving School says, ‘Making use of the hard shoulder is a great idea overall since traffic will flow better with four lanes instead of three.’
However, Jane Hunt of Britannia Driving School argues, ‘I totally disagree with completely removing the hard shoulder – in the event of an accident, it is going to make people harder to stop and how are emergency services meant to get through?’