How to keep safe on SMART motorways

How to keep safe on SMART motorways 2nd July 2014

Many of Britain's motorways have been changed so that technology is used to alter the speed limits when the driving conditions necessitate it. These roads are called SMART motorways.

However, in light of the fact that 71 per cent of respondents admitted they would feel less on safe on one type of such roads according to the Institute of Advanced Motorists, here is a guide to how to remain safe when you're driving on a SMART motorway.

There are three different types that have been introduced. The first one is controlled motorways, which have three or more lanes that have variable speed limits. Motorists should only use the hard shoulder if they have no other option.

Hard shoulder running motorways mean drivers can use this additional lane at busy times, providing they drive at a slower speed. However, only overheard signs can dictate that this is OK to do.

It is the third type – all lane running – that has provoked safety fears, as no hard shoulder exists.

In an emergency on this type of motorway, such as a breakdown, drivers are strongly advised not to panic. Instead, make the most of an emergency refuge area, motorway service or exit at the next available junction.

Failing this, try to get the vehicle off the carriageway, providing it is safe to do this. However, if you have no other alternative apart from stopping in a live lane, then immediately put your hazard warning lights on.

If you are in the left hand lane, exit the vehicle via the left hand door – assuming it is safe – and wait behind the barrier. If it is not possible to leave your car for whatever reason, stay inside, put your seatbelt on and phone the emergency services.

The overhead gantries have CCTV cameras installed and, as a result, if a stranded vehicle is seen, the lane of traffic in which it has stopped will be closed to slash the risk of an accident. This will help to protect you until the suitable assistance arrives on the scene.

Drivers should also ensure that before they set out on a long journey, they make sure their vehicle is functioning properly and is well-maintained. This includes ensuring tyres are pumped up suitably to the levels, which can be found either inside the petrol cap or in the handbook. If you're travelling with lots of luggage or people, this is particularly important.

Other routine checks need to be regularly carried out, such as making sure the oil, coolant and windscreen wiper levels are healthy. Any lights that appear on the dashboard need to be looked out by a mechanic and it is always best to get your car checked out if you are concerned by any strange noises. Don't tempt fate by waiting for your petrol light to go on either – fill up when you see a station!

So, when you're planning to use one of the SMART motorways, make sure you're fully prepared so that, if the worst comes to the worst, you won't be caught out!

Posted by Danielle Barge