Are Smart Motorways A Good Thing For Your Fleet?
If you haven’t yet seen a new Smart Motorway in action, you’ve most likely encountered the roadworks that precede them. Several of the UK’s motorways have already been converted to Smart Motorways and there are plans to convert even more. But what are Smart Motorways and are they a good thing for your fleet?
What are Smart Motorways?
Smart Motorways are sections of motorways that utilise different speed limits to improve the flow of traffic. The aim is to control the flow and speed of traffic so that vehicles approaching slow moving traffic are slowed down ahead of reaching the jam. This will avoid vehicles having to slam on their brakes to significantly reduce their speed which can prevent the jam from getting worse.
The stretches of road that have been converted to Smart Motorways are monitored from a control tower to determine how many lanes should be open and at what speed the traffic should be travelling at different times of the day. For example, during peak times, the hard shoulder might be opened as an additional lane and the speed limit dropped to 50 mph to improve the flow of traffic.
The Smart Motorway conversions started back in 2006 on a stretch of the M42. The initial conversions showed promising results which is why we’re noticing the scheme all round the country.
Are Smart Motorways actually working?
So we know that the aim of Smart Motorways is to control and improve the flow of traffic, safety, and environmental impact of road travel. 11 years on, are they working?
Analysis of traffic has shown that there have been improvements. Roads are safer with fatalities on Smart Motorways halving and the seriousness of injuries has been reduced. Journey reliability has improved by nearly 25% and when there are road traffic incidents, lanes can be closed incredibly quickly to allow access for Emergency Services.
There doesn’t yet, however, seem to be any evidence to suggest that the scheme has either increased or reduced carbon emissions and pollution. Although we don’t seem to have any proof either way, Environmental groups fear that pollution could increase, but Highways England maintains the stance that better flow of traffic should help to reduce emissions. As we aren’t able to see the impact that Smart Motorways are having on pollution, it’s something that will be closely monitored as the scheme continues.
Are Smart Motorways a good thing for your fleet?
The short answer is yes; we believe that Smart Motorways are a good thing (should they successfully achieve the impact that is expected).
For starters, improved traffic flow means less sharp braking and accelerating. We already know that constantly braking and accelerating throughout a journey can have a significant negative impact on the wear and tear of your vehicles. This means that with Smart Motorways, your vehicles should stay in tip top shape for longer.
Secondly, analysis has already proved that Smart Motorways have improved safety on our motorways. There are fewer fatalities (perhaps the absolute worst nightmare for any business) meaning that not only are your vehicles safer, but so are your employees.
Finally, if Smart Motorways do reduce pollution as Highways England expects them to, then the carbon footprint of your business is going to be reduced. It can be difficult to be environmentally friendly when you’re running a fleet of cars, but hopefully Smart Motorways can help you along to become a greener, more environmentally aware business.