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STRANDED: Where To Pull Over On a Smart Motorway

STRANDED: Do you know where to stop in an emergency on a smart motorway if there's no hard shoulder?

As 'smart motorways' are being rolled out throughout the UK, motorists are having to get to grips with new ways of using motorways. New research has found that a number of motorists are still unaware of how to use smart motorways effectively, and where to pull over in an emergency.

A recent study conducted by the RAC has revealed that over half - 52% - of motorists surveyed had no clue as to where the emergency refuge areas were on smart motorways. On smart motorways, emergency refuge areas are spaced every 2.5KM, these refuge areas offer a place for motorists to stop in an emergency, such as a breakdown.

These refuge areas have been implemented to compensate for the loss of a permanent hard shoulder. With emergency refuge areas being far apart and less accessible, drivers have been advised that they shouldn't be used unless it's an emergency e.g. they shouldn't be used to pull over and take a phone call or for toilet breaks.

According to the survey; two-thirds of drivers are unaware of what to do once they have stopped, with some not knowing the safest way to re-enter the motorway. Drivers will have to contact Highways England who will be able to close the lane, or slow down traffic to allows driver to rejoin the motorway safely.

The next three years will see motorways across the UK change to smart motorways. £3billion is being invested into upgrading existing motorways, this will hopefully ease congestion and keep traffic moving. Smart motorways are also expected to add more space for the increasing number of vehicles on our roads.

RAC: How to use a smart motorway emergency refuge area

  • Emergency refuge areas (ERA) should only be used if it is safe to reach them – they are marked with blue signs featuring the orange SOS telephone symbol.
  • If safe to do so, leave your vehicle and contact Highways England via the roadside emergency telephone provided
  • After a call has been made, a traffic officer will be sent to assist you, or motorway signs will be set to temporarily close lanes or reduce speed limits.
  • If you plan on rejoining the motorway, it is recommended you call Highways England again so that restriction can be put in place to make this as safe as possible.
  • If you cannot reach an ERA, attempt to drive your car to the hard shoulder or nearest the boundary as possible.
  • Hazard warning lights should be used in all instances.

“It is essential motorists understand how and when to use an emergency refuge area so they do not put their own safety and that of other road users at risk." Said RAC Chief Engineer David Bizley. He continued:

“Vehicles should pull up to the indicated mark on the tarmac and then the occupants should leave the vehicle from the passenger side. Everyone should stand behind the barriers and should use the emergency roadside telephone provided to speak to a Highways England representative."

For the most part, driving on a smart motorway is just the same as driving on a old motorway, but motorists need to be aware of the changes, including changes in speed limits that can be found on the gantry's and red 'Xs' that indicate that a lane has been closed. It is an offence to drive in a lane that has been closed.

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Posted on 22nd May 2017 at 12:14 PM

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