Getting Around Smart Motorways

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Smart motorways help keep traffic moving and, if you do courier jobs, you know why that’s important. Here are some tips for smart usage of smart motorways.

If you do courier jobs that involve long periods on motorways, then you are most probably familiar with what are known as smart motorways.

What is a “Smart Motorway”?

Well, it’s got nothing to do with mobile technology like a “smart phone” – but it does, just like your phone, provide the user with more possibilities for a quicker and safer drive.

First introduced on the M42 in the West Midlands in 2006, the scheme uses what is known as Active Traffic Management (ATM) to regulate the flow of traffic and increase road capacity. This is achieved by enforcing variable speed limits and use of the hard shoulder as an extra lane during peak periods. If you’ve come across the term “controlled motorways”, then this refers to a similar scheme but one where the hard shoulder isn’t used as an extra lane.

For drivers in general, and drivers carrying out courier jobs in particular, smart motorways contribute to a smoother flow of traffic, more reliable journey times and a significant reduction in accidents, noise and emissions. Bottom line, you get to your destination faster, more safely, use less fuel, and enjoy a more relaxed journey.

Tips & Advice for Driving On Smart Motorways

One important fact you must be aware of – on a smart motorway, the former hard shoulder is now known as “Lane 1” so when you see or hear references to this, remember what it means.

The Red “X”

Smart motorways are characterised by a system of overhead gantries with a variety of digital signs that provide drivers with traffic instructions. One of the most important is the big, red “X”. This signifies that the lane it appears above is closed to all traffic! There are many reasons for closing a lane – accidents, debris or oil on the road, keeping a lane clear for emergency services, etc. If you’re in a lane and the red X is displayed, promptly but carefully move out of it. Failure to do so could result in a fine but, more importantly, could endanger your life and that of others.

Speed Limits

As a driver doing courier jobs, your drivers licence is essential. Losing it could put you out of business, and accumulating too many points on your licence is also not a good idea. Pay attention to the speed limits displayed above the different lanes. A speed limit shown in a red circle is compulsory and driving above it could result in a fine and points. Remember that different lanes may have different limits. If no speed limit is displayed, then the national speed limit is the one that applies.

Using Lane 1 (Formally the Hard Shoulder)

A solid white line denotes the hard shoulder. You will know if the hard shoulder is open for use if a speed limit is displayed above it. If not, stay off unless it’s an emergency.

NOTE: On some sections of smart motorway the hard shoulder is permanently used as Lane 1 – in this case the white line will be a broken one.

For more information on smart driving on smart motorways, check out the government’s how-to guide.

Article Tags: Smart Motorways, Courier Jobs, Speed Limits, Hard Shoulder, Speed Limit

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