If you are heading out in the car over this coming Easter weekend you may well get caught in a traffic jam caused by roadworks aimed at creating a new smart motorway route.
It may not seem to be that smart while you are sat nose to tail looking at the warning signs, but as far as Highways England is concerned, the smart motorway really is the way forward, even if most people don’t really know what they are.
What is a smart motorway route?
A smart motorway uses technology to increase capacity and relieve congestion while maintaining safety on the country’s major motorways.
The hard shoulder is used for traffic, either permanently or at peak times. This creates an extra lane to provide additional capacity – without the extra cost, time needed and the environmental impact of constructing new motorway lanes.
Technology is used to monitor congestion levels and change the speed limit when needed to smooth the traffic flow. This reduces frustrating stop-start driving and improves your journey reliability.
Smart motorways use pioneering technology to manage traffic at busy times by:
- changing the speed limit to smooth traffic flow and reduce frustrating stop-start driving
- activating warning signs to alert drivers to jams and hazards
- closing lanes – for example to allow emergency vehicles through
The stats that prove the smart motorway works
The first smart motorway scheme opened to traffic on the M42 in 2006 and analysis of data gathered since it opened shows:
- journey reliability improved by 22 per cent
- personal injury accidents reduced by more than half
- where accidents did occur, severity was much lower overall with zero fatalities and fewer seriously injured
Emergency refuge areas on the smart motorway
Emergency refuge areas (ERA)were introduced on motorways where the hard shoulder is used permanently. They provide an area of relative safety following a breakdown.
If you are driving at 60mph you are never more that 75 seconds, on average, from an ERA which will have an emergency telephone connecting you to Regional Control Centres and pinpoint your location.
If you are heading out for the bank holiday weekend the last thing you want is to break down. Check your car before you set out and check on your breakdown insurance cover.
The cost of not having breakdown cover can be huge due to the high towing costs and call out charges which mean breakdown insurance is almost a necessity. Breakdown cover will usually pay for itself the first time you need it, as motorway towing charges can be £150, the average garage call-out charge is £90 and the average call-out for a flat battery is £66.
Smart breakdown insurance for a smart motorway – from just £56
With Flux Rescue the vehicle is covered for UK and European roadside assistance and recovery, the cover also includes a home start service all from £56.
Check out where roadworks are likely to impact on your journey over the forthcoming bank holiday weekend.