New Emergency areas for cars on Smart Motorways

Published Date: 18th Jul 2017

The redesigned new orange emergency area on the M3 between Sunbury-on-Thames to Southampton will be used for cars and other vehicles in case of an emergency. More upgrades are planned for the future if the trial is a success.

Smart motorways use an enforced speed limit during busy times of the day to manage traffic flow and tackle the frustrating stop start congestion caused by the immediate build up of cars. More advantages include providing drivers with better information on the road conditions ahead and convert the hard shoulder into another lane. This creates a need for the special emergency areas when capacity is high.

Evidence has shown that smart motorways are successful in adding capacity, improving journey times whilst being just as safe as any conventional motorway.

Highways England Chief Executive Jim O’Sullivan said “We recognise the public concern about smart motorways and we also believe that changes such as these will help drivers have confidence when using them and be clear about where they can stop in an emergency.”

“That is why we are trialling these highly visible new style emergency areas. The bright orange colouring will make them as easy as possible to spot and should also discourage drivers from using them in non-emergency situations.”

The new Bright Orange emergency area on the M3

The new bright orange emergency area on the M3 smart motorway

The bright orange areas for the emergencies are just one part Highways England’s current campaign to improve awareness on the new smart motorways. This includes what to do in an emergency and when to use the emergency areas. You’ll also hear about this in the big TV, radio and social media push to cover key areas such as not driving in a lane closed by a red X sign, the importance of carrying out simple vehicle checks and checking fuel levels before setting off.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said “Our roads are some of the safest in the world but we are always looking at making them safer. Smart motorways are adding extra lanes to our busiest motorways and – as recent evidence shows – reducing the rate of crashes.”

“We are making emergency refuge areas more visible to ensure motorists in trouble can easily identify where to stop safely.”

If the emergency area trials are a success and drivers find the implementation beneficial, then the bright orange emergency lay-bys will be coming to a smart motorway near you.