Are Britain’s Drivers Ignoring Smart Motorways?

Tue 3rd Sep 2019

More than half of Britain’s drivers have admitted that they are afraid to use the hard shoulder on a smart motorway, even if instructed as safe to do so.

The so-called ‘dynamic hard shoulder’ is one of the three types of smart motorway, one where the hard shoulder becomes available to drivers during peak hours.

However, a study of more than 2,000 drivers by Kwik Fit has found that 56 per cent of motorists don’t use the left-most lane, even when the hard shoulder is open to all traffic.

Confusion over the use of the hard shoulder remains, with 29 per cent of those polled admitting that they weren’t sure whether they could actually use the hard-shoulder, even on the smart motorway’s ‘dynamic hard shoulder’ or ‘all lane running’ conditions.

The poll looked at many aspects of the smart motorway rules and there were some worrying findings with 15 per cent admitting that they believed a blank sign means that the lane is open, when it means the opposite. Almost half said that a flashing amber light with an arrow also meant that the lane was open, when it is actually warning of a hazard ahead.

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said “It's clear that if many drivers are avoiding using the hard shoulder when it's open, then the extra capacity which smart motorways are designed to provide is not being utilised properly and we will end up being in a worse position than with the original road layout,' he said.

“It is vital that there is a nationwide information campaign to ensure that drivers fully understand when they can and cannot use the hard shoulder if smart motorways are to be accepted by drivers and provide a way to ease congestion – something we need desperately.”