Managed Motorways – The Essential Guide

M6 motorway at nightManaged motorways are those ones which have lots of overhead gantries, variable speed limit and hard shoulder running at busy times.

They are increasingly widespread in the UK and the evidence so far suggests that they are both safer and make more efficient use of busy motorways.

Simon Elstow, head of training at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, recently published some tips on how to make best use of managed motorways – I’ve reproduced these below as they explain – for example – the rules on variable speed limits.

Managed Motorways

The first managed motorway began operating on the M42, Birmingham, in 2006, and has shown a decrease in personal injury crashes of more than half, none of them fatal.

Pay attention to the overhead gantries as they provide advice for the road ahead. This will allow you to make adjustments to your journey where necessary. The six signals are:

  • A red cross without flashing beacons. The hard shoulder is only for use in an emergency or breakdown.
  • A speed limit inside a red circle. It is absolutely mandatory and may have cameras enforcing it.
  • A blank signal. Usual motorway rules apply.
  • A white arrow with flashing beacons. This applies to all lanes and means you should move into the lane which the arrow points to.
  • A red cross with flashing beacons. You should not continue to use the lane.
  • A national speed limit sign is shown. The national speed limit, 70mph maximum, applies to all lanes apart from the hard shoulder.

Elstow said: “Managed motorways not only help keep motorways moving – they are also safer than conventional ones. Their numbers are set to continue, so brush up on your knowledge of the signs so you can get the biggest benefit out of the information they are giving you.”

Thanks to Simon Elstow and the IAM for these excellent tips.

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