Speeding and Smart Motorways

Smart-ish Motorways

Perhaps it’s my age, the generation of drivers that I come from, or perhaps I am just plain old stubborn about accepting change, but there’s something happening to our motorways that does not sit well, they got smart.

I have driven for many years and clocked up many miles, a fair proportion of these on motorways. Over time, the number of vehicles on our roads has risen inexorably and until the next revolution in transportation happens, will not reduce.

Certainly, the motorway system is nearing saturation, but is the answer in the development of the “smart” motorway? I sincerely hope not.

This system of speed/lane control, I find pretty stressful to concentrate on, and turning the hard shoulder into another motorway lane is positively scary.

The hard shoulder, is reckoned to be the most dangerous place on a motorway, but removing it completely surely goes beyond just dangerous, certainly I find it verging on terrifying.

What are the consequences of say, running out of fuel, or having a puncture, with every square metre of road a carriage way. There are “refuge” lay-bys built at convenient intervals, if you could just persuade your inert vehicle to go the extra mile….


The system of illuminated overhead speed instructions are backed up with such a fearsome arsenal of speed cameras and sensors, that those instructions are to be obeyed without question.

This means to me, that I have surrendered my driving judgement and ability to that of a computer, which deems that it will take responsibility for my speed regardless of intervening mitigations.

A recent drive from the west country to east Anglia on a pleasant late summer weekend afternoon, took in two frustrating hold-ups, the first as the M5 crosses the M4 near Bristol.

This two mile section is a controlled smart motorway, so fortunately only took twenty minutes to travel along, the second requiring to use just one section of the M40, some five miles in length, is not a smart motorway, so took thirty minutes to cross.

The difference, as I see it, lies in the hundreds of millions of pounds that it costs to “smarten” a motorway, with the installation of however many hundreds of speed cameras loaded with technical accuracy that could probably check your eye colours…. if however they have instead deemed you to be exceeding the speed limit, ask patterson law a free question about how to defend the accusation and find out all your options, free!

These will doubtless help to pay for the next stretch of fear inducing, computer controlled, Orwellian motoring.

What price driverless cars!