12 May, 23

A guide to smart motorways and how to navigate them safely!

Smart highways are a hotly debated subject. Due to growing safety concerns, the Department of Transportation was forced to completely halt the rollout of all-lane-running (ALR) smart motorways.
The UK already has many miles of smart highways in place, so it’s important for drivers and riders to learn how to utilize them.
Drivers naturally have a lot of concerns regarding these more modern forms of highways, including: what are they, how do I use them, what should I do if I break down on them, whether are they more dangerous, and what fines may I receive while driving on them?
To make driving easier and safer for drivers, we have tried to address several of them.
Participate in the discussion by leaving a comment below on your experiences utilizing smart highways.

A smart highway is what?

A segment of a highway known as a “smart motorway” employs traffic management techniques to expand capacity and lessen congestion in especially congested regions.
The hard shoulder can be used as a jogging lane, and variable speed restrictions can be used to manage traffic flow.
By minimizing the need to add more lanes, Highways England (formerly the Highways Agency) created smart motorways to manage traffic in a way that minimizes its negative effects on the environment, its expense, and its construction time.
As far as smart motorways are concerned, there are three different sorts of plans.

What kinds of smart highways exist?

Currently, controlled motorways, dynamic hard shoulder running schemes, and all-lane running schemes are the three different forms of smart motorways.

  • All lane running schemes
  • Dynamic “hard shoulder” schemes
  • Controlled motorway schemes

Are smart motorways dangerous?

Due to the absence of a hard shoulder, many people believe that smart motorways are riskier than traditional motorways. Seven out of ten respondents (68%) to the RAC Report on Motoring 2019 study stated they thought eliminating the hard shoulder on highways compromised safety.
Since the first smart motorway opened in 2006, Highways England has compiled statistics to say:
The reliability of travel has increased by 22%.
Accidents involving personal harm have decreased by more than half.
Highways England has conducted outreach programs to inform motorists on how to utilize smart motorways, including the need to consistently respect red X signs. In order to be more visible to cars, Emergency Refuge Areas (ERAs) are increasingly being painted orange. Additionally, there are more signs pointing drivers in the direction of their next ERA. The RAC, however, continues to push for more modifications to smart motorways in order to increase their level of safety and help drivers feel more secure while using them, particularly on sections of ‘all lane running’ smart highways where the hard shoulder has been permanently eliminated.

What regulations apply to smart motorways?

On smart highways, of course, all regular traffic laws and regulations apply, but there are a few things in particular that need clarification.

Smart motorway speeding

The same rules and punishments apply when someone is found speeding on a smart highway, but because there are more cameras and variable speed limits there, it is usually far more likely that someone will be caught and penalized.
This is further fueled by the fact that many motorists are unaware that even when a variable speed restriction is not in effect, cameras on smart motorways that enforce variable speed limits can still capture you exceeding the national speed limit.
According to Highways England, the national speed restriction is in effect if no particular speed limit sign is present.
Smart highways have speed traps in place. You risk getting fined if you exceed the speed limit.
Drivers who break the law run the risk of receiving a harsher penalty given the new speeding sentencing framework, which may result in fines of up to £2,500 for offenders.

X-Red fines

It is exceedingly risky to ignore the red X. Drivers who violate traffic laws while using a camera will automatically receive a £100 fine and three penalty points.

Where will the red cross (X) be visible?

On UK roadways, especially the current generation of smart motorways where traffic is monitored and lanes are controlled, the red X is becoming a more frequent sight.
Either on an overhead gantry or, increasingly, on cantilever signage at the side of the road, you may find it there.

Why is there a red X there?

Do not drive in the lane; it has been blocked to traffic, regardless of where you see the sign, whether it is on a hard shoulder on a highway or in a regular traffic lane.

Why does the red X matter?

Despite being the statistically safest type of road in Britain. Motorways can be hazardous for everyone nearby in the event of a breakdown. The high speed of oncoming traffic poses the majority of the hazards associated with a motorway breakdown. Although new so-called “smart” roads without a permanent hard shoulder are constantly being built. The likelihood of an event occurring might be much higher.
The lane is closed to traffic when the appropriate highway traffic management authority learns of a breakdown. Or incident on a smart motorway by turning on a “red cross” sign on the gantries that span the road.
Ignoring the “red X” sign is illegal since doing so puts everyone nearby. As well as the people inside the offending car in danger of suffering serious injuries. Drivers who disregard the red cross sign risk receiving a £60 fine and three penalty points on their license.

Tips for driving on smart motorways

Here are a few brief suggestions from Highways England for utilizing a smart motorway:

  • Never enter a lane marked with a “red X.”
  • Follow the posted speed restriction on the gantries.
  • The hard shoulder is marked by a strong white line; unless ordered, never drive there.
  • A typical running lane is indicated by a broken white line.

If your car has problems, such as a warning light, get off the smart highway as soon as you can. Find a spot to stop that is somewhat safe. By following these tips, you can safely navigate a smart motorway and avoid any potential issues.

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