RAC calls for dynamic hard shoulders on smart motorways

RAC calls for dynamic hard shoulders on smart motorways

All lane running should be abandoned on smart motorways in favour of operating ‘dynamic’ hard shoulders, according to the RAC.

The motoring group says that opening the hard shoulder to traffic only at busy times will provide increased capacity when needed, while allowing drivers to pull over during quieter periods.

All lane running should be scrapped entirely, according to six in 10 drivers polled by RAC, with only a quarter supporting current Government policy of having permanent running lanes on smart motorways with no hard shoulder. 

“It seems the only thing that will truly satisfy most drivers is the reinstatement of the hard shoulder,” said RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes. He added that allowing dynamic hard shoulder running promises “increased capacity without adversely compromising safety.

“Arguably, all that would be needed is to repaint the solid white hard shoulder line and potentially some additional gantry signs,” he added. “We would also like to see the ‘red X’ closed lane symbol illuminated whenever the hard shoulder is not being used as a running lane alongside variable message signs indicating the hard shoulder is for emergency use only so drivers clearly know it’s not in use.”

That way, he said, there would be no confusion and anyone who has to stop due to a breakdown or incident is likely to be better protected. 

In February the Transport Secretary told the Transport Select Committee he pledged to get rid of ‘dynamic’ hard shoulders. And at a later Committee session in June, the Transport Minister Baroness Vere said the Government believes “the dynamic hard shoulder is a less viable route to take forward because it causes confusion” for motorists.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Data shows that fatalities are less likely on smart motorways than on conventional ones, but we know some drivers can feel less safe on them.

“This is why, alongside a raft of other measures, every all lane running motorway will open with technology to spot stopped vehicles. We’re also speeding up the roll out of this technology on previously built stretches of these roads, with it due to be in place by September 2022.

“To help give drivers more confidence, this week we updated The Highway Code to provide further guidance on using smart motorways, including information on where to stop in an emergency and the importance of not driving in a lane closed by a Red X.”

4 thoughts on “RAC calls for dynamic hard shoulders on smart motorways”

  1. Les Sargeant

    The original hard shoulder should be reintroduced asap. If a car decides its going to break down it breaks down. Having the hard shoulder means you can pull over whenever it’s necessary.
    I can’t believe some smartarse thought it would be a good idea to take the hard shoulder away in the first place

  2. Well that’s the fickle drivers of GB. The last study stated they found Dynamic Motorways confusing & wanted all lanes running scrapped due to the Emergency areas too far apart.
    They just want to stick with the old format, has they then don’t need to actively think!!!
    Just do the same old same old routines, which means they can go back to whinging about the congestion too!!!!

  3. Hi Andrew here, I have been a driving instructor for 30 years so I think I have a good idea what is the right thing to do re Smart Motorways.
    I’m very surprised that Nicholas Lyes is in favour of having Dynamic Hard Shoulders.
    Who is he representing, not the majority of RAC members. Having all lanes running at certain times means the volume of traffic is high with nowhere to stop, its a lottery
    I personally have been on a smart motorway when there has been an accident and believe me you don’t want to be there.
    A permanent hard shoulder should be the norm, at least a the driver who encounters
    Problems with his vehicle has somewhere to go, the hard shoulder and can then exit his vehicle and stay behind the barriers till help arrive, just imagine Nicholas you on a smart motorway with your family and you have problems what are you going to do
    , no hard shoulder and you are relying on the cars behind have been following at the correct distance so they can stop in time and the cars that are following each other can stop as well. The RAC should be pushing for the scrapping of all Smart motorways not pandering to Highways England.
    Nicholas I’m at the end of a phone or contact me at my Email address,
    Remember in life there is no substitute for experience please contact me for an informal chat.
    Regards Andrew.

  4. What’s the point of updating the Highway Code when virtually no one reads it once they’ve passed their theory tests so the only people reading it are learner drivers and driving instructors
    Bring back the hard shoulder… better to arrive late than late in a coffin

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