Smart motorway: What does it mean?

Use of technology to monitor traffic and dynamically manage speed limits and lane closures. Aims to reduce congestion.

Smart motorway: The long answer

A Smart Motorway is a type of road system in the UK that uses technology to manage traffic flow and increase capacity on busy motorways. It involves the use of variable speed limits, active traffic management, and the conversion of the hard shoulder into a running lane during peak hours.

The main purpose of Smart Motorways is to reduce congestion and improve journey times for drivers. The technology employed in these motorways includes overhead gantries with electronic signs that display speed limits and other relevant information to drivers. These speed limits can be adjusted in real-time based on traffic conditions, accidents, or other incidents, helping to maintain a smooth flow of traffic and prevent gridlocks.

Additionally, Smart Motorways use CCTV cameras and sensors to monitor traffic and detect any issues promptly. In case of breakdowns or accidents, the hard shoulder can be temporarily opened as an extra lane to alleviate congestion. Emergency refuge areas are also provided at regular intervals for drivers to safely stop in case of emergencies.

While Smart Motorways have been implemented to improve traffic flow, they have faced criticism and concerns regarding driver safety. Some drivers argue that the removal of the hard shoulder increases the risk of accidents and makes it more challenging for emergency services to reach incidents. However, Highways England, the agency responsible for managing these motorways, has implemented measures to address these concerns, such as increasing the number of emergency refuge areas and improving signage.

Overall, as a UK driver, understanding the concept of Smart Motorways is crucial to navigate and adapt to the changing traffic conditions on these roads, ensuring a safer and more efficient journey.