March 20, 2020
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Concerns have been raised about the safety of SMART motorways and following a recent review, the Government has announced a number of measures it intends to take to improve safety.

But do you know how to use SMART Motorways correctly as a driver? Detailed guidance is provided by Highways England and can be found on the GOV.UK website at: In this article we summarise some of the key points:

So how should you drive on a SMART motorway?

  • Be alert to the signs and keep to the speed limits. A speed limit displayed in a red circle on an overhead sign is legally enforceable. When variable speed limits are displayed, they remain in force until notified that they have ended or a different speed limit is displayed.
  • Where no speed limit is displayed then the national speed limit applies, however you should always drive at a safe speed for the conditions and be aware of your stopping distances.
  • Keep out of any lane that has a red X sign displayed, this indicates the lane is closed to all traffic e.g. because there has been an incident or people are working in it. It is an offence to drive in a lane closed by a red X (unless instructed to do so by the police or a traffic officer).
  • However many lanes a motorway has open, you should always keep left, except when overtaking.
  • Remember broken white lines indicate normal running lanes and solid white lines indicate a hard shoulder. On SMART motorways, where the hard shoulder is sometimes opened to traffic, this should be indicated by a speed limit being displayed above it. If a red X or nothing is displayed above a hard shoulder you should only enter it in an emergency.

What should you do in an emergency or if you breakdown?

  • Where a motorway has a hard shoulder you can use it to stop in an emergency. If you can, it is recommended that you exit your vehicle on the left and get behind the safety barrier and away from traffic and call for assistance.
  • Where a motorway does not have a hard shoulder, you should move to the left hand lane, put your hazard warning lights on and either exit the motorway at the next junction or pull in to the next emergency area. Once you are in an emergency area, you can call for help using the free emergency phone.
  • If you can’t get off the motorway or to an emergency area, then you should get as close as possible to the left hand verge, boundary or slip road. Then if it is safe and practical to do so, exit your vehicle on the left, get behind the safety barrier and away from traffic and call 999 for assistance.
  • If your vehicle stops in any lane and it is not safe to get out, the advice is to keep your seat-belt and hazard lights on and call 999 immediately.

Our specialists can help you to manage road safety for your employees and develop and implement suitable occupational road risk policies and procedures. Please speak to your normal PIB Risk Management contact or get in touch using [email protected]  if you have any questions.