Drivers need more help to understand smart motorways, says independent watchdog Transport Focus.
The organisation says Highways England should do more to increase drivers’ knowledge about what a red X means and about what you should do if you break down.
In its latest research the watchdog found that when it came to motorways without a hard shoulder, safety was not at the forefront of drivers’ minds and only came up when the subject was specifically explored.
However, few drivers knew for sure what they should do if they were to break down where there is no hard shoulder.
Transport Focus is now calling on Highways England to:
- Do more to help drivers understand what smart motorways** are designed to achieve and how their various features work for the benefit of road users
- Reassure road users that motorways with no hard shoulder are safe, even if you break down
- Roll out the orange surface and new signage to emergency refuge areas as quickly as possible, if current trials are successful.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said: "What’s been missing until now is an understanding of how road users experience smart motorways.
“The message to Highways England is that many millions of drivers successfully use smart motorways, but there is more to do to improve their understanding of how they work and what you should do if you break down.
“Road users tend to trust that ‘the authorities’ would not allow motorways without a hard shoulder if it was unsafe. Highways England must remain vigilant that their trust is not misplaced.”