Smart motorway is a fairly new term to describe sections of motorways where technology is used by regional centres to help reduce congestion. The regional centres use CCTV and traffic sensors to help monitor traffic flows and can activate signs and adjust speed limits (known as variable speed limits) to help traffic move more freely.
On busier stretches of motorways, the hard shoulder may be used (either as a permanent extra lane or temporarily, using signs to indicate when it is in use) as a way of avoiding the cost or the environmental impact of building another lane. In these sections of motorways, there are emergency areas (with emergency telephones) if the event of a vehicle breaking down.
If you start to experience problems with your vehicle when driving on a smart motorway, try to leave the motorway at the next exit. If this isn’t possible, use the next emergency area and contact the regional centre using the emergency telephone.
If your car breaks down before you can reach the next emergency area, try to drive it to the nearside verge (the extreme left of the nearside (left) lane) and switch on your hazard lights. It is also suggested that you switch on your lights and rear fog lights (to help increase your visibility to other drivers). To avoid the danger of being inside a stationary vehicle (as there is a risk of it being being hit from behind), exit your vehicle as soon as possible (if you feel it is safe to do so) and take your mobile phone with you. When you and your passengers leave your vehicle, leave it using the nearside (left) doors and wait behind a safety barrier, keeping well away from the traffic and your own vehicle (just in case it gets hit). You can use your mobile phone to contact the nearest regional centre (0300 123 5000) as well as your own breakdown recovery provider (so it is an idea to have these numbers stored in your phone).
Since June 2018, learners have been allowed to drive on motorways (providing that they are accompanied by a DVSA Approved Driving Instructor). As those living in NG7, NG8 and NG9 are close to the MI, most of my learners are now offered the opportunity to have a lesson on a motorway (once I have assessed that they have reached a suitable standard). The motorway lesson will include joining a motorway from a slip road, overtaking/changing lanes, using cruise control and leaving a motorway from a slip road. Conversations during the motorway lesson will focus on the sort of areas covered by the Theory Test (e.g. what to do in the event of a breakdown, motorway signs, colours of studs, contraflows etc). If you are planning to take your Theory Test before having a lesson on a motorway, we can have a discussion about motorways during any other lesson.
If you are a qualified driver without much (or any) motorway experience and want a motorway lesson, please contact me with your details to obtain more information. If you passed your test before June 2018, after having at least 25 hours of lessons with me, I will offer a 50% discount off the usual price for a motorway lesson.