There have been a lot of changes to motorways through the years in order to make them more reliable, more safer and allow more traffic to pass without as many hold ups.
Recently we have the introduction of ‘smart motorways.’
Smart motorways use a part of the motorway that allows a traffic management system to add more lanes to help reduce traffic jams especially in the busier areas at busier times of the day. The hard shoulder is now being used as a lane and the introduction of variable speed limits has been added to help control the flow of traffic in order to try to avoid the build up of traffic.
There are three main types of smart motorway which are dynamic hard shoulder running schemes, all lane running schemes and controlled motorways.
Dynamic hard shoulder running schemes involves opening the hard shoulder to become a running lane so it can be used at busy times of the day to help ease traffic. The hard shoulder must not be used if the signs above are displaying a red X or are blank.
All lane running schemes permanently remove the hard shoulder to convert it into a running lane. On this type of motorway the hard shoulder or lane one is always running unless there has been an accident. When this happens a red X on the gantry lane will light up and will signify that the lane should not be used as a lane anymore and drivers should change to another lane as soon as possible. Failing to do so can result in severe consequences.
Controlled motorways have at least three lanes with variable speed limits but have still kept its hard shoulder which should only be used in an emergency. These variable speed limits are shown on overhead gantry signs and if there aren’t any speed limits shown then the national speed limit takes over.
Recently smart motorways have been called death zones as there is nowhere to stop. Using the hard shoulder as a normal driving lane has helped reduce traffic but has been the cause for a handful of deaths and lots of accidents because whenever a driver breaks down they seem to find it near impossible to escape being hit. According to a recent survey nearly 80% of drivers feel that motorways are far more dangerous now than they were half a decade ago all due to the removal of hard shoulders.