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Latest section of "smart" motorway opens on M25

The latest section is between junctions 5 and 6/7 and sees the hard shoulder converted for use as a permanent traffic lane with enhanced on-road technology to manage traffic flow.

This follows the opening of the smart motorway on the M25 between junctions 23 and 25 in Hertfordshire with traffic using the improved section since Monday 14th April.

According to the Highways Agency, the introduction of smart motorways will reduce congestion, improve journey time reliability for drivers and maintain safety.

John Martin, Highways Agency senior project manager, said: ‘The improvements on the M25 in Kent and Surrey are part of the £1.7 billion of investment into roads in the South East by 2021. The new smart motorway will provide extra capacity and offer more reliable journeys for the 140,000 drivers that use this stretch of road every day.

‘I’m particularly pleased that the southern section of the M25 has opened well ahead of planned completion this winter thanks to rescheduling of the programme.

‘Ahead of the opening next week, I would like to ask drivers to get smart and find out more about how to use it, the types of signs and signals they will see and what to do in the event of a breakdown.’

However, the existing “smart” motorways on both the M25 and M6 have already prompted concern from road safety groups.

The AA has said that whilst it welcomes the congestion-busting aspects of the scheme, it has significant reservations, because permanent hard shoulder removal means that breakdowns and other emergencies could take place in a live traffic lane rather than the hard shoulder.

Meanwhile RAC technical director David Bizley said: 'We have raised concerns with the Highways Agency about the added risk arising from increased distance between emergency refuge areas, and we are disappointed so far at the absence of action to address them.' 

A public information campaign to help drivers find out more about smart motorways includes information online, on YouTube, in retail outlets such as motorway service areas, radio advertising, and leaflets. For further information please visit http://www.highways.gov.uk/publications/smart-motorways-campaign-material/

To read more reactions to the introduction of “smart” motorways, click here.

Watch the video here.

For more of the latest industry news, click here.

Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 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. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.