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‘Smart motorway’ offenders could be offered re-education courses


Drivers who are caught offending on smart motorways in the UK could be offered re-education courses by police.

Smart TV? Works fine. Smart phone? We can figure that out with a bit of help. Yet when the motorways start turning smart many Brits seem to have a bit of trouble adapting. Police chiefs have said new road rules are confusing motorists and that more awareness is needed.

Smart motorways use variable speed limits and also benefit from allowing drivers to use the hard shoulder to reduce congestion. BBC Radio 5live has reported an 18% rise in the number of drivers caught using the hard shoulder illegally in the past three years.

Over 1,014 tickets were issued in the last financial year according to a freedom of information request where 38 police forces responded. In comparison, 859 were issued for the previous financial year.

The National Police Chief’s Council have since said that it is aiming to create more awareness of the road rules in a hope to improve compliance. Although details have not yet been confirmed it has been suggested that courses should be available for motorists who break the variable speed limit as well as those who use lanes closed with a red X or the hard shoulder when it has not been permitted.

So far, 200 miles of motorway have been converted to smart motorways in England and Wales, with future plans for another 200 miles that are already under construction.

According to Suzette Davenport from the NPCC, the scheme is aimed at helping motorists who are confused about when to use the hard shoulder as an additional 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.”

“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.”

The government is currently discussing plans that will allow learner drivers to use the motorway in dual control vehicles with the supervision of an instructor. The RAC has also voiced its opinion on this subject, saying that they want motorways, and the rules surrounding motorways included in the test.

Safety adviser for the RAC, Steve Robinson said:

“There is probably a shortfall currently, where somebody passes their test today, having never set foot on the motorway and off they go tomorrow on a 70 mile per hour speed limit motorway, some of which might be dynamic or all lanes running.

“I really think education is the key really.”

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