Over recent years our motorways have evolved into ‘smart motorways’ but along this journey we have created three different types of ‘smart motorways’. The M1 is currently the only motorway that includes all three different varieties of ‘smart motorway’ on its length from London to Yorkshire.
As the name suggests, all lane running sections of smart motorways don’t have a traditional ‘hard shoulder’. Lanes are only closed in the event of an incident and emergency refuge areas are provided at regular intervals.
CCTV is used to monitor the flow of the traffic and the speed limit can be reduced at times of congestion. If an incident occurs, a red ‘x’ may be displayed on an overhead gantry to signify the lane is closed. Driving underneath a red ‘x’ is illegal and could lead to prosecution.
A controlled motorway is very similar to the example above where traffic flow is monitored and the speed limit can be changed however a controlled motorway retains a traditional ‘hard shoulder’.
This was the original ‘smart motorway’ test on the M42 near Birmingham. The motorway retains a ‘hard shoulder’ which may be used at busy periods. The scheme is now in operation on the M42, M1, M4, M5 and M6 motorways.
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