Are British Drivers Being Unfairly Punished On Smart Motorways?

Mon 30th Apr 2018

Britain’s drivers are paying a record number of speeding fines on the UK’s smart motorways, with an investigation suggesting that motorists are unsure of the rules of the roads.

An investigation by The Times has found that more than 70,000 drivers were fined on smart motorways last year, a tenfold increase compared with five years ago.

Smart motorways, which are operated by Highways England, use pre-emptively enforced speed limits to reduce congestion on the motorways. But the AA has said that the motorways are not working as the UK driving public does not trust or understand them.

“It’s not surprising that drivers who see the ‘congestion ahead’ message but are the only car on the motorway don’t trust the lowered speed limit,” an AA spokesman told “It’s because they’re unaware of how the system works. But, in their defence, how would they know?”

The smart motorways kick into action when radar systems detect signs of congestion on selected sections of the motorway, they enforce reduce speed limits and encourage vehicles to use the hard shoulder or Lane 1 to give it its technical terms.

“Let’s have a review in the radar system,” the spokesman said. “Is there a time lag, has it been left on for an hour after that congestion has ended? We argue that if traffic is now free, let it flow.”

“Even Highways England has said that drivers aren’t using Lane 1 as much as they could be. So if the smart motorway system is flawed, how does that tie in with Highways England’s ambition to introduce more of them?”