GEM Survey Shows Two Thirds of Motorists Have Concerns About the Safety of Smart Motorways

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A survey by road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist has shown that two thirds of motorists are concerned about safety on smart motorways.

In the survey, which was completed during March 2018 by more than 2,500 people, the main concern (expressed by 51 per cent) was of breaking down with no access to a hard shoulder.

GEM road safety officer, Neil Worth, commented that it was easy to see why motorists would be concerned: “The prospect of breaking down on the motorway is scary at the best of times. But in a smart motorway environment, when there may be no hard shoulder, it becomes a great deal more worrying.

“If your car develops a problem in a stretch of smart motorway, GEM’s advice is to try to get to the next junction or service area. If that’s not possible, then pull in to the next emergency area. These are easily identified by blue signs with orange SOS symbols next to them.”

GEM discussed the survey results during a recent visit to the Highways England control centre at Godstone in Surrey, where motorway cameras and sensors are located, and where speed limits can be changed and lanes closed in a matter of seconds.

“The technology in use was impressive. But we must remember that to work effectively it relies on all smart motorway users understanding what is expected of them. That’s why we are keen to ensure that motorists know where to go for simple and straightforward advice. For example, it is regrettable that there is still no specific smart motorway advice contained in the Highway Code,” added Neil.

Get up to speed on smart motorway driving:

Check out the new page on the GEM website at www.motoringassist.com/smartmotorways . Here you will find tips on signs, speeds, lanes and other relevant information. There are also links to a selection of smart motorway videos produced by Highways England.

GEM’s tips for smart motorway safety

There are three key points to remember when driving on a smart motorway:

  • Never drive in a lane closed by a red x
  • Keep to the speed limit shown on the gantries
  • Don't drive on the hard shoulder unless specifically directed

Put safety first if your car develops a problem on a stretch of smart motorway:

  • Try to drive to the next emergency area. This will have a blue sign with an orange SOS phone symbol next to it.
  • Switch on your car's hazard warning lights and the sidelights if it's dark or foggy, then get out of your car on the passenger side and use the phone to contact the control centre.
  • If you use a mobile phone to call for assistance possible, tell the operator the number of the nearest marker post. These are located at 100-metre intervals on both sides of all motorways and will assist in pinpointing your location.
  • Stay out of your car and stand behind the safety barrier while you wait for assistance to arrive.
  • You must contact the control centre before leaving an emergency area, as this allows a controller to put a temporary closure on the inside lane which will help you to get back onto the motorway and build up your speed safely.
  • If you can't make it to an emergency area, drive it as far onto the motorway verge as you can and stop there. Switch on your hazard lights, then leave the car on the passenger side and get behind the safety barrier. Call 999 for emergency help, then contact your breakdown cover provider.
  • If you can't leave your vehicle, keep your seatbelt on and switch on your hazard warning lights and sidelights.

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