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Drivers confused by smart motorways

RULES: Findings from Europcar UK's new poll have illustrated the confusion surrounding Smart Motorways.
RULES: Findings from Europcar UK's new poll have illustrated the confusion surrounding Smart Motorways.
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New research has revealed some motorists are none too clever about smart motorways.

A survey by car hire firm Europcar UK shows that smart motorways are still not fully understood by UK motorists despite being around since 2006.

RULES: Findings from Europcar UK's new poll have illustrated the confusion surrounding Smart Motorways.

RULES: Findings from Europcar UK's new poll have illustrated the confusion surrounding Smart Motorways.

Smart motorways are stretches of motorway that monitor and manage the flow of traffic. There are several ways they operate - including hard shoulder running, controlled motorway (using variable speed limits) or a red ‘X’ on the overhead gantry.

While 70 per cent of motorists who responded understood why smart motorways were introduced, only two in five understood the practicalities of how they should be used, such as what the speed limit is if the hard shoulder has been activated for use. Yet, failing to understand the laws that govern these roads may lead to a fine or points on a licence, dependent on the offence.

Gary Smith, managing director of Europcar UK Group, said: “It is vital that motorists understand how smart motorways should be used, especially if driving on unfamiliar roads. As smart motorways become more common, it’s worth holidaymakers taking the time to research any that they may need to use to get to their destination to avoid falling foul of any potential traffic offences.”

The poll found almost two thirds of respondents knew what to do when a red ‘X’ appears on the overhead gantry. Yet, 23 per cent thought an ‘all lane running’ meant that only broken down vehicles could use the hard shoulder. The rules that govern hard shoulder usage are clearly a point of confusion. While 66 per cent knew not to drive in a hard shoulder when closed, only 41 per cent knew that when in operation the speed limit varies dependent on traffic or emergencies. Speeding on the hard shoulder can be picked up by one of the many smaller speed cameras on smart motorways yet only 38 per cent of respondents knew these were in operation.