Blog: Smart motorways explained

Blog: Smart motorways explained

With smart motorways catching more people speeding than ever before according to an article from the Telegraph, we thought it was time we clued up the nation on smart motorways and what part they play in getting a fine through your front door.

So, what are Smart Motorways?

These are the sections of the motorway that can change the speed limit depending on volume of traffic, and are designed to ease the flow of traffic when it gets busy.

They also warn you of hazards ahead on clearly visable screens. This includes messages such as “Obstruction – Slow Down,” “Debris in Road” or even “Animals in Road,” which brings in a whole different take on why did the chicken cross the road.

Where are they?

Smart Motorways are getting more and more common throughout Britain, and include:

·        M23 – Junction 16-24

·        M1 – Junction 6a-13 and junction 25-28

·        M6 – Junction 5-10a

·        M42 – Junction 3a – 9

·        M4 – Junction 19-20 and Bristol – M5

And this map, from Highways England, shows the smart motorway projects that are underway:

What’s the deal with the speed cameras?

Unlike traditional speed cameras, the ones on smart motorways are a lot smaller, to the left, and are painted grey and yellow which makes them more difficult to spot.

The Sun showed that the most fines caught on smart motorways were on the M1 between Luton S airport to Bedford and Milton Keynes. A massive 10,489 people got caught speeding on this stretch in 2014 and 2015.

Oh, and that’s another thing, the cameras can flash you at any time – even if the screens are off and it’s the national speed limit - and that’s 24 hours a day folks!

So, think twice before you think you go that extra few MPHs.


The Red X

You may have heard or seen the recent adverts about the red X over smart motorways.

Despite the annoyance you might have towards a closed lane, the X is there for a reason – usually for a hazard ahead. They’re not there just for your inconvenience.

And, the point to remember is – when you see a red X, get out of the lane as quickly and as safely as you can. If you don’t, you might get fined!

What about emergencies?

If there isn’t a sign or a red X above the hard shoulder, then use it like you would normally in emergencies. But, if other vehicles are driving in the hard shoulder as directed, then try and pull over into one of the many emergency reservations.

And if that’s not possible

Follow advice from the DVLA:

  • Pull over as far to the left as you can
  • If you can leave your vehicle safely, do so and contract Highways England
  • Always switch on your hazards
  • If you can’t get out safely, stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt on and call 999

Don’t get caught out

If you’re coming to CarShop Northampton, then don’t get caught out by the new smart motorway on the M1 (June 2018). The new section will stem from junctions 16-19, and is live right now!

Here’s a little video from Highways England for the top tips on Smart Motorways.



  • On: 22 June 2018
  • By: CarShop

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