Highways England could be set to review smart motorways after a huge increase in the number of drivers being caught speeding.
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Indeed, since their inception, these so-called smart motorways have garnered a great deal of criticism from members of the police force, professional drivers, and members of the public alike.
So what exactly are smart motorways and why are they causing so much trouble?
What is a smart motorway?
A smart motorway is a section of the highway which utilises active traffic management (ATM) methods, like variable speed limits and using the hard shoulder as a running lane when the road is busy.
It’s through these methods that a smart motorway is designed reduce traffic congestion, and therefore make journey times more reliable, while reducing carbon emissions by getting cars off the road more quickly.
However, ‘smart motorway’ seems to be turning into a bit of a misnomer, as there’s been a disproportionately large increase in the number of drivers who have been hit with speeding fines since the advent of smart motorways in the UK.
According to figures put together by The Times, 72,348 people were fined after being caught speeding on smart motorways last year, having been caught out by the temporary speed limits that are set to below the national 70mph limit.
That’s almost twice as much as the year before, and a tenfold increase on what we saw five years ago.
Meanwhile The Telegraph has quoted officer John Apter, of the Police Federation as saying that the roads are starting to look like ‘The Wacky Races’, because the lack of an emergency lane in the form of a car-less hard shoulder makes it nearly impossible for law enforcement to pull over dangerous drivers.
Larry Axten, a recovery driver, told Sky News that he thinks that smart motorways have the potential to be effective, ‘but at the moment they are not safe enough for both motorists and recovery workers’.
He goes on to say that: ‘Smart motorways will display a lit-up red cross over a closed lane when there is a breakdown, but I will see up to five drivers a minute completely ignoring them … That’s the heart of the issue – the red crosses on smart motorways are not stopping drivers using closed lanes.’
Highways England has responded to criticism by giving drivers more warning about any changes to the speed limit.
The organisation said: ‘We want to ensure that what drivers see also feels relevant to the traffic conditions, so we’ve improved the way we set message signs and signals on smart motorways and have started a comprehensive review of how variable speed limits are set, including the amount of time they are visible to drivers.’
by – metro.co.uk