The Majority Of British Drivers Don’t Know How Smart Motorways Work

New research has revealed that less than half of British drivers know the rules of smart motorways, raising significant safety concerns…

Smart Motorway Headaches 

The majority of British drivers don’t understand the rules on smart motorways. In fact, according to a new study, less than half of them know how to use them properly. A joint survey conducted by road safety charity Brake and Green Flag sought the knowledge of 2,010 motorists. It discovered that 75% of them know what a smart motorway is; but that only 48% understand how to use them. That means one in four drivers don’t even know what a smart motorway is, let alone how to safely navigate them.

As it stands, England is the only part of the United Kingdom that uses smart motorway formats. When only English motorists are consulted, however, the results barely improve. For instance, 77% of English drivers how what a smart motorway is and just 52% are confident that they understand the associated rules. Only recently, the government revised its approach to smart motorways. It’s axed the ‘dynamic’ format that saw the outermost lane switching between being a hard shoulder and a live lane. In its place, it’s introduced the permanent all-lane running format, which it claims is simpler and easier to understand.

Drivers Are ‘Confused’ 

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake, believes the survey confirms that drivers are confused. He said, “these important findings confirm what we all suspected; drivers are confused about the rules of driving on smart motorways and communication efforts must urgently be stepped up to help avoid more tragic incidents on these roads”.

Damon Jowett, head of service delivery at Green Flag, stressed the importance of improving driver awareness. He said, “while the smart motorways system allows for drivers to get to their destination more easily, understanding of the rules is paramount to ensure road safety. Our latest report has highlighted concerning gaps in driver awareness. Here at Green Flag, we want to help increase driver awareness for motorway driving to ensure these roads are as safe as possible”.

Whilst the debate surrounding the safety of smart motorways is bound to rage on, it’s clear that more needs to be done to properly educate drivers. After all, if the smart format is more efficient, drivers need to know how to properly exploit it and safely. The starting point, then, is making sure that all drivers are familiar with them in the first place.

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