Smart motorways are increasing in number, so it’s essential that new drivers, and existing drivers are up to date with the concept. People who use motorways on a regular basis. Should be aware that once a speed limit sign is observed, there can now be a speed camera in operation. Speed cameras were taken off motorways a few years ago, but they have now returned. Smart motorways are technology-driven, designed to increase traffic capacity and relieve congestion. The thinking behind this technology is that by controlling the speed and traffic flow more effectively, journey times could be more reliable and traffic jams reduced.
Learner drivers will be allowed on motorways early 2018 once the legislation has been passed. Learner drivers though, must be in a driving school car that has dual controls fitted and an Approved Driving Instructor present. As part of the training and coaching on the subject of ‘Motorway Driving’, new drivers need to understand the concept of smart motorways. Learner drivers would, up to this point, have only experienced dual carriageway slip roads on their learner driving lessons.
Using real time technology, motorway control centres monitor traffic and can activate and change signs and speed limits. They can also increase the capacity of the road by either temporarily or permanently opening the hard shoulder to traffic.
Smart motorways – the rules
Drivers must obey the instructions given by the traffic management system.
- Never drive in a lane closed by a red ‘X’
- keep to the speed limit shown on the gantries
The red ‘X’ indicates that a lane is closed and drivers will need to move out of that
lane promptly.. This is because there is some obstruction in that lane. It could be a collision, breakdown debris, animal or person that is blocking the lane. Just because you can’t see what is blocking the lane, does not mean you can enter it. Maybe it is left open for emergency vehicles only.
The hard shoulder maybe converted to become a normal lane when there is traffic congestion. Otherwise, if the regular lanes are running normally, the red ‘X’ may appear over the hard shoulder.
- Overhead gantries provide variable speed limits to help manage traffic and smooth the flow. It also reduces ‘stop-start’ driving. Normal national speed limits apply when no signs are showing.
- A speed limit displayed inside a red circle is legally enforceable. If you don’t keep to this speed limit, you are breaking the law
- Speed cameras are in operation on smart motorways. If you don’t keep to the speed limit, you may receive a fine.