For those in the business of highways and concrete repair, one significant development in recent years has been the advent of the smart motorway. Previously known as ‘managed motorways’, these stretches of roads are monitored by traffic cameras, so that in times of congestion, the hard shoulder can be opened up to ease the passage of cars.
With the likes of the M25, M1 and M6 all having smart motorway status, it’s clear that the scheme is considered a success, and earlier this month, it was reported by the Manchester Evening News that the M62 between Manchester and Leeds had been promised a technological upgrade. While it won’t be finished until 2022, it certainly gives motorists who travel this route regularly some hope of alleviated traffic in the future.
However, according to motoring.co.uk, police have warned that smart motorways are not without their drawbacks. An in-use hard shoulder not only means that it’s harder for emergency vehicles to travel lengths of the motorways to reach accidents, but they also make it harder for police to pull over dangerous drivers when the extra lane is in use. The website also claims that there is a common concern that these roads confuse foreign visitors, which could lead to further accidents.
The Highways Agency has answered these criticisms previously with the fact that these roads have such extensive CCTV coverage that any issues such as these can be dealt with quickly and effectively when needed. The question is whether these rarer circumstances weigh up against the good that smart motorways do to help relieve traffic issues in their everyday use – one that the government seems to have answered by further roll-out of the scheme across the UK.