Improvements to the M25
In spring 2014, the Highways Agency will open two new improved sections of the M25, improving journeys for road users and benefiting the economy.
The two new sections of smart motorway will open between junctions 23 and 25 on the Hertfordshire/Essex border and between junctions 5 and 7 on the Kent/Surrey border. On the new M25 sections the hard shoulder will be used permanently as a traffic lane. This is referred to as `all lane running'.
How to use All Lane Running
There is no hard shoulder on these sections of motorway. There is a broken white line between each lane, indicating that all lanes have the same status. Refuge areas are available for emergency use.
Variable speed limits will be used to adjust speed limits during busy periods to control the flow of vehicles and prevent traffic grinding to a halt. The current speed limit will be displayed on signs over or at the side of the carriageway.
The Highways Agency will use a red `X' symbol to show that a lane is closed because of an incident or some other obstruction, or people working in the road. Driving in a lane with a red `X' symbol is dangerous. You could be prosecuted.
What do I do if I need to stop?
Do not stop on the motorway unless unavoidable. If you need to stop in an emergency, use an emergency refuge area, motorway service area or leave at the next junction. If that is not possible try and get your vehicle off the carriageway, if it is safe to do so.
If you have no choice but to stop in a live lane put your hazard warning lights on to help other drivers see you and help Highways Agency control room staff to spot you on CCTV. If you are in the left hand lane and it is safe to do so, exit the vehicle via the left hand door. Wait behind the barrier if possible. If you cannot exit the vehicle, do not feel it is safe to do so or there is no other place of relative safety, remain in the vehicle. Keep your seat belt on and dial `999'.
Get smart, know your motorways
Smart motorways use technology to help relieve congestion and make journey times more reliable. This includes controlling speeds to improve traffic flow providing better information to drivers on overhead signs.
Most recognisably the hard shoulder can be converted to a traffic lane at peak times, or permanently, with emergency refuge areas. This extra lane creates vital additional capacity with no worsening of safety.
The improvements are being delivered at a significantly lower cost than a conventional motorway widening scheme and with less impact on the environment during construction.
It is important to the Highways Agency that all road users understand the layout, signs and signals used on our smart motorways sections, so are urging all road users to find out more about the different types of technology and features used.
What are the benefits?
Smart motorways relieve congestion and smooth the flow of the traffic, improving safety and journey times, and supporting economic development.
We already have evidence of the benefits a smart motorway scheme can bring. The first smart motorway opened to traffic on the M42 in the Midlands in 2006; analysis of the data gathered since opening found that journey times improved, and emissions reduced due to traffic flowing more smoothly.
In addition, personal injury accidents have reduced by more than half since hard shoulder running was introduced; with an overall reduction in the severity of accidents.
The `Get Smart' campaign has been created to help road users understand the different driving environments, types of signs and signals they will see and what to do in the event of a breakdown when travelling on a smart motorway. Each of these key themes is easily identifiable through a series of icons that appear on all of the campaign materials and on the Agency's website.
How do I find out more information?
You can find out more about smart motorways by visiting the Highways Agency website. Alternatively, please read the 'Smart motorways' leaflet.