What is a Smart Motorway?
This is simply a section of a motorway that employs the use of technology to monitor traffic flow. By actively managing traffic signs and speed limits from a regional control point, a smart motorway greatly increases the capacity of a road without physically increasing the capacity of the road. Smart motorways were developed by Highways England to help save time and money that is used to expand roads. In a way, this also minimises environmental damage.
Types of Smart Motorways
Currently, there are three types of smart motorways – all lane running motorway, controlled motorways, and dynamic hard shoulder running motorways.
Here, at least three lanes are reserved for traffic while the hard shoulder lane is left out and used only when there is an emergency. Controlled motorways can be found at:
M1 J25-28, M25 J27-31, M25 J2-3, M20 J4-7, M25 J7-8, M25 J18-10, M25 J10-16, M26 J16-23, M1 J6a-10, M42 J3a-M40 J16, M60 J8-18.
All Lane Running Schemes
As per the name, these motorways treat the hard shoulder as just another traffic lane. The hard shoulder is closed to traffic in case of an emergency, and this is shown using overhead traffic signs. You will find all running lane schemes at the following UK locations:
M1 J39-42, M1 J32-35a, M1 J28-31, M25 J23-27, M25 J5-6/7, M3 J2-4a, M6 J10a-13, M62 J18-20.
Dynamic Hard Shoulder Running Schemes
These motorways reduce traffic congestion by opening up the hard shoulder and treating it as a running lane. A white line is used to separate the hard shoulder from the normal lanes, and overhead signs are used to show when the hard shoulder is open to traffic and when it is closed. A red X symbols means a lane is closed to traffic and drivers who keep to this lane will be fined. Dynamic hard shoulder running motorways can be found at:
M6 J4-5, M42 J7-9, M42 J3a-7, M1 J10-13, M5 J15-17, M4 J19-20, M6 J5-8, M6 J8-10a, M62 J25-30.
What to do if you Break-down
Before you take your car on the road, no matter the length of your journey, make sure that you have enough fuel and that your vehicle is well maintained. If you break down on a smart motorway, simply turn on your hazard light to let other drivers on the road know what is going on. After this, exit the smart motorway immediately. There should be ERAs (Emergency Refuge Areas) along the path of the motorway in case your breakdown is severe or in case you cannot exit the motorway. Hard shoulders are also an option in case you are far from a refuge area. Contact Highways England one of the emergency telephones in you make it to an ERA, otherwise, stay in your vehicle and dial 999 on your mobile device.