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Transport Committee launches all-lane running motorway inquiry

The inquiry, which is open until 31 January 2016, will look at how several “all-lane running” motorway schemes in sections of the M1, M4, M5, M6, M42 and M62 are in operation either as part of a managed motorway or with the hard shoulder used as a full-time running lane.

With use of all-lane running looking set to expand, the Committee is gathering evidence on area including:

  • The impact of all-lane running on the safety of motorway users;
  • The effectiveness of all-lane running in managing capacity and congestion on the strategic road network;
  • The impact on motorway maintenance;
  • Incident rates, the management of incidents, vehicle recovery, and the provision of refuge areas where all-lane running is used;
  • How policy on all-lane running should evolve, whether application of the policy should be expanded, and whether the policy is sustainable;
  • The implications of the policy for future motorway widening schemes;
  • The extent to which road users understand and comply with signs where all-lane running is in operation, and the changes that are needed in driver education and behaviour.

The RAC has responded to the inquiry and said its RAC Report on Motoring 2015 outlines how although the majority (56%) of motorists agree they are an effective way of increasing motorway capacity, a question mark remains over their safety.

The RAC added: “Relatively few motorists have experience of driving on both smart motorway configurations and it is evident that the associated safety benefits are not generally understood. A fifth (20%) of drivers responded that they believe that the dynamic hard shoulder configuration is less safe than a conventional motorway with a permanent hard shoulder, and a slightly higher percentage (25%) took a similar view for the all-lanes-running variant compared to a conventional motorway.

“The RAC welcomes the Road Investment Strategy and supports the introduction of more smart motorways. However, the RAC has concerns regarding the safety of the ‘all-lanes-running’ configuration of smart motorways and therefore calls on Highways England to monitor the safety performance closely where all-lanes running is in use and to consider reverting to the dynamic hard shoulder configuration for these and other sections planned for all-lanes running.”

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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.