Drivers caught offending on smart motorways in England could be retrained. Smart motorways operate variable speed limits and can open the hard shoulder for use to help reduce congestion.
Police chiefs said that the new rules involving smart motorways were confusing motorists and more awareness was needed to inform drivers of the rules.
In 2016, over 1,000 tickets were issued, an increase on the year before. As you can imagine, a number of excuses were given, amongst them were drivers who claimed they were half on the hard shoulder and half in the first lane, as it was the fastest route between two places. Another excuse was that they were driving on the hard shoulder as they were looking for signage to their destination.
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The National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) said it wanted to create a greater awareness of the road rules and improve compliance with them.
Details on the retraining of offenders are yet to be confirmed, but ideas being discussed include courses, similar to a speed awareness course, for this who break the variable speed limit, use lanes closed or use the hard shoulder when it has been closed.
In England and Wales, there are currently more than 200 miles of smart motorways, with another 200 miles in construction. Current smart motorways include sections of the M1, M4, M6 and M25.
Suzette Davenport, from the NPCC stated the the scheme would help those who are confused about when to use the hard shoulder as an extra lane.
“I genuinely don’t know that people understand when it is OK,” she said. “Absolutely there are people who will now use the hard shoulder if there is a queue of traffic so they get off more quickly because they don’t want to sit in a queue.
“I’m not sure that would have happened say 15 years ago.”
Ms Davenport says a motorway course would bring it in line with other parts of the road network.
“We don’t have national driver offender retraining courses for the motorways. So if you get caught on the motorway you are going to get a ticket.
“Whereas we have about one million people a year on other road networks who are being caught driving and are going on national offender retraining. So we’ve been talking to Highways England about developing a course.”
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