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The smart motorway really is the way forward for England’s highways

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March 22, 2018
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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.

smart motorway

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

smart motorway

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.

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