Millions of holidaymakers will hit the road this summer and, whether they’re staying in Britain or heading for airports or ports, many will take unfamiliar routes, some including stretches of smart motorway.
With that in mind, Highways England is issuing advice on how to use the roads properly.
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Its tips are highlighted on the gov.uk/guidance/how-to-drive-on-a-smart-motorway site. They cover everything from overhead signs and legally enforceable variable speed limits to hard shoulder use and what to do in the case of a breakdown.
Commenting on the new campaign, the RAC’s road safety officer, Pete Williams, says: “With more than 230 miles of smart motorway in operation, representing 10% of total motorway miles, and plans to convert the hard shoulder into a permanent running lane on a further 300 miles over the next five years, it is imperative that motorists become familiar with how these stretches of road operate.
“Breaking down on any type of motorway can be a stressful and frightening experience so we are pleased to be working closely with Highways England to inform motorists of ‘best practice’ safe use of these new motorway configurations.
“Smart motorways are a cost-effective and rapid way to increase the capacity of the network, in the face of an anticipated 60% increase in the volume of traffic by 2040, but it is vital that this isn’t done at the expense of safety.
“As these represent the biggest changes to motorway design for a generation, communicating how to use them both in general and in emergency scenarios is essential.”
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Mr Williams adds: “In the event of breakdown on a smart motorway, the RAC’s advice is to try to reach an emergency refuge area. If you can’t do this, move as far over onto the verge as possible, leaving enough room to leave the vehicle by the left-hand doors.
"In all cases, red ‘X’ signs that indicate a lane is not in use should be obeyed to keep our motorways as safe as possible.”
Designed to cut congestion and improve journey times by using variable speed limits and making the hard shoulder available as an extra lane, smart motorways operate on stretches of the M1, M4/5, M6, M20, M25, M42/40 and M62.