Smart motorway development

01 September


In 2014, there was over 310 billion miles travelled by vehicles in Great Britain.

With such a high volume, accidents are unavoidable and this is one reason for the slow introduction for smart motorways.

The smart motorways have a volume of assets that make them safer and these include:

  • Variable speed limits
  • Opening and closing certain lanes, depending on traffic
  • Accident awareness signs to help mitigate traffic
  • Roadside control signs
  • Part-time use of the hard shoulder as another lane
  • Emergency refuge areas
  • Ramp metering – two section signals with a controller that regulated the flow of traffic entering freeways, depending to traffic conditions
  • Enforcement cameras to measure traffic in a congested area or warn against breaking the law.

The purpose of smart motorways is to increase the capacity of the roads in the UK, as well as make them safer, with advanced warnings about traffic and much more. Knowing about an accident means that we can take a diversion if we need to, helping us to avoid traffic and releasing the pressure of traffic in the area of the crash so that emergency services can reach the accident.

There are currently 3 different types of smart motor way:

  1. All lanes running – There are no hard shoulders on these stretches of road. There are variable speed limits and refuge areas roughly every 1.5 miles. Examples of this type of motorway are:
  • M25 between J5 and J6/7
  • M25 between J23 and J27
  1. Controlled motorway – The hard shoulder is for emergency use only. There are multiples lanes that operate with variable speed limits. This occurs on:
  • The M25 west.
  1. Hard shoulder running – Overhead signs to tell you when you are allowed to access the hard shoulder. There are variable speed limits and the hard shoulder will be open at busy times. Examples of this type of smart motorway includes:
  • M4 between J19 and J20
  • M5 between J15 and J17
  • M42 between J7 and J9
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