There are already about 500 miles of so-called “smart” motorways in use throughout the UK, and there are plans in place to almost double that coverage over the next five years or so.

However, it seems that even if you are a truck driver using them on a daily basis or just a regular motorist who uses these main arteries of our road system to get from A to B, it seems that at least 25% of drivers using these routes have no idea what a smart motorway is and how to use it.

Less than half of drivers know the rules

A survey carried out by a road safety charity called Brake in conjunction with Green Flag revealed that less than 50% of drivers quizzed confirmed they know how to use a smart motorway correctly.

That is a worryingly high number of motorists who are using a stretch of road each day where they don’t know how to respond to an emergency situation or follow the instructions being shown to them on the overhead screens.

Know the rules

If you are driving a truck on these smart motorways, it’s essential for you to carry out your journey safe in the knowledge that you know how to use these roads safely and legally, especially if you need to be extra vigilant when it comes to those around you who may not have the same comprehension of the rules.

All the information you need about smart motorway rules is available online, and there are some vital aspects of the guide which many of the motorists surveyed did not know when questioned.

How many of these rules did you know?

– When a lane has a red ‘X’ above it, you should never drive in it.

– The hard shoulder will always be a solid white unbroken line and if you don’t see either a red X or a speed limit displayed, you must not use the lane, except in an emergency situation.

– A broken white line signifies a normal running lane.

– When the hard shoulder is being deployed as an extra lane, you must then use the designated emergency areas when you are faced with an emergency situation.

There have already been at least 40 deaths attributed to smart motorways since they were introduced back in 2014 and reported near-misses have rocketed in that period, which clearly illustrates the fact that far too many drivers don’t know the rules when using them.

The risk of breaking down in a live lane when the hard shoulder has been removed has increased threefold, according to Highways England data and, sadly, there have been at least four deaths attributed to drivers who found themselves unable to reach an Emergency Relief Area on the M1, for instance.

If you are a truck driver using these smart motorways regularly, it makes sense to know the rules and be mindful that those around might not be so clued up.

If you’re looking for reliable commercial vehicles, get in touch with our team at James Hart (Chorley) today.