Government Plans To Beat Motorway Jams

Motorists will soon be allowed to drive on the hard shoulder of motorways during busy times, under new plans to tackle traffic congestion announced by the government.

Following a trial on the M42, new ways of managing motorway traffic - including hard shoulder running - will be implemented as part of a £150 million scheme on the motorway box around Birmingham.

A feasibility study will then be undertaken to consider if similar schemes could help to beat congestion on other parts of the motorway network.

The scheme could then be rolled out on other motorways including the M25, M4, M20, M1 and M6.

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly said: "The M42 trials shows that using innovative thinking to help drivers beat motorway jams really works.

"New traffic management techniques, like hard shoulder running and varying speed limits, offer practical and cost-effective solutions to cutting congestion and I now want to explore whether other motorways could benefit from similarly creative measures.

"Other important benefits are less disruption from road works, reduced environmental impacts, better information for drivers and a faster, more effective response to accidents."

A report on the first six months of the full M42 trial saw significant benefits for motorists, the environment and the economy. Use of the hard shoulder in peak periods saw average journey times fall by more than a quarter on the northbound carriageway and drivers' ability to predict their weekday journey times improved by 27%. Alongside this, overall fuel consumption reduced by 4% and vehicle emissions fell by up to 10%.

The report also found that 84% of drivers said that they felt confident about using the hard shoulder. Alongside this, since the introduction of hard shoulder running, the report found that the personal injury accident rate had fallen from 5.2 per month to 1.5 per month on this section of the M42.


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