Hard-shoulders set to be opened

Motorway hard-shoulders on six British roads are set to be opened up to motorists in a bid to cut congestion.

The M1, M3, M6, M25, M60 and M62 are set to have an extra lane, and more than 100 miles of hard shoulder will be used, according to the Highways Agency.

Under the "managed motorways" project, the distances of some refuges at the roadside will be increased by 100%.

At the moment, refuges are between 800 metres and 1,000 metres apart.

Further alterations to motorways are set to be implemented in 2013. Motorists could use ajourney planner before setting off, in case changes have been made.

The changes would see overhead gantries, which show variable speed limits, removed and replaced with signs only covering lanes at the near-side.

A spokesman from the Highways Agency said existing, similar schemes have improved the reliability of motorways, decreased congestion and improved safety.

"Evidence from the M42 managed motorway scheme shows that personal injury accidents have more than halved," the spokesman said.

"There have been no fatalities in the five years it's been in operation as a result of variable speed limits and hard shoulder running.

"We are confident that once these proposals are fully developed they will provide the additional capacity required, without compromising overall safety."

Copyright Press Association 2012