If your buying or selling or leasing a car in the UK, make sure you Check Mot of the vehicles first. There has been lots written in the press recently about smart motorways, highlighting cases of people who have been injured after breaking down on the side of the road. Not all part of the country have smart motorways, but if you’re planning to travel to different parts of the country this summer, it pays to be prepared.
What is a Smart Motorway?
The idea behind a smart motorway is to increase capacity on the roads without building extra lanes. In a smart motorway, the hard shoulder isn’t permanent, and can be used for traffic during busy periods. Usually, smart motorways have overhead gantries with markers showing which lanes are open. Most smart motorways have additional “refuge zones” which are laybys designed to allow drivers to stop if they encounter mechanical difficulties. However, this assumes that the driver can make it to the next stopping point. If not, they may have no option but to stop on a live lane, with traffic coming up behind them.
The concerns about smart motorways are so serious that the government announced that they would abolish plans to build more smart motorways, and would start work to remove those already in operations. Currently, parts of the M1, M4, M5, M6, M42 and M62 are smart motorways.
Driving on a Smart Motorway
At quieter times of the day, driving on a smart motorway is no different from driving on any other type of motorway. The very left hand lane will be indicated with a large red cross on the overhead signage, indicating that it is not to be used. During these times, it functions as a standard hard shoulder. When traffic builds up, operators can flick a switch in the control room and bring the hard shoulder into use as a standard traffic lane. If this happens, traffic should start to flow more smoothly. As a driver, it’s your job to keep your wits about you and watch to see which lanes are in operation and which aren’t. If you do break down, the best advice is to get out of the car and across the barrier away from the side of the road. Smart motorways should be monitored constantly, with help dispatched soon.
General Motorway Tips and Hints
Driving on a motorway is not tricky, but if you’re lacking in confidence or experience, booking in a few refresher lessons won’t do any harm. Make sure that your car is properly maintained and serviced, as this will minimise the risks of breaking down on your journey. If you book your car in for a Check MOT test and there are minor issues flagged on your pass certificate, don’t ignore these and hope they’ll go away. A minor problem can quickly develop into a larger problem if left unchecked.