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Highway Code should contain smart motorway advice, says GEM

The majority of motorists are still worried over using smart motorways despite their continued rollout in the UK.

64% of respondents said they had concerns about smart motorways in the GEM research

64% of respondents said they had concerns about smart motorways in the GEM research

That’s the finding of new research by GEM Motoring Assist, which says it’s regrettable that there is still no specific smart motorway advice contained in the Highway Code.

A survey of 2,574 drivers carried out this spring by the road safety and breakdown organisation found nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents said they had concerns about smart motorways, with the main concern (expressed by 51%) surrounding breaking down with no access to a hard shoulder.

Recent RAC research found 52% of drivers don’t know what an emergency refuge area (ERA) on a smart motorway is or that they should use them in the event of a breakdown or an accident in the absence of a hard shoulder.

Yet plans put out for consultation by Highways England earlier this year could see smart motorways rolled out across most of the motorway network.

GEM highlighted its own survey results during a recent visit to the Highways England control centre at Godstone in Surrey, where motorway cameras and sensors are located, and where speed limits can be changed and lanes closed in a matter of seconds.

“The technology in use was impressive,” said GEM road safety officer Neil Worth. “But we must remember that to work effectively it relies on all smart motorway users understanding what is expected of them. That’s why we are keen to ensure that motorists know where to go for simple and straightforward advice.”

Although the Highway Code doesn’t have specific smart motorway advice, GEM’s website includes tips on signs, speeds, lanes and other relevant information. There are also links to a selection of smart motorway videos produced by Highways England.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.