Smart Motorways

Smart ALR motorway

The Highways England is rolling out smart motorways across the country, they make use of new technology to manage congestion and improve journey time reliability. This includes controlling speeds to improve traffic flow through the use of variable mandatory speeds and providing driver information on overhead signs. Most recognisably smart motorways use the hard shoulder at times of peak demand or the hard shoulder is permanently converted to a traffic lane known as All Lanes Running (ALR) with additional emergency refuge areas. This adds extra capacity on some of the busiest sections of our motorway network.

Quick tips on a smart motorway:

Traffic Officer at motorway incident

  • Never drive in a lane closed by a red “X
  • Keep to the speed limit shown on the gantries
  • A solid white line indicates the hard shoulder - don’t drive in it unless directed.
  • A broken white line indicates a normal running lane
  • If your vehicle experiences difficulties, eg warning light, exit the smart motorway immediately if possible
  • Use the refuge areas for emergencies if there’s no hard shoulder
  • In less urgent circumstances consider using the motorway slip roads if one is near
  • put your hazard lights on if you break down

Latest Smart motorway advise this summer from Highways England

Hard shoulder use

On smart motorways you will see refuge areas spaced regularly alongside the motorway. You should use these only in emergencies.

This is because on some smart motorways the hard shoulder can be opened up for traffic to use at busy times. If it is open for use you will see a speed limit displayed over it.

If there is no sign, or a red X is displayed, then normal hard shoulder rules apply. In other words, do not use it except in emergency.

A hard shoulder is always clearly identified with a solid white unbroken line.

On other types of smart motorway, the hard shoulder has been permanently converted into an extra lane, this is known as All Lanes Running (ALR). Where this is the case the lane looks like any other lane, ie it is marked with a broken white line.