Smart motorway refuges painted orange to help drivers

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Motorway emergency refuge areas

The first orange bay has been revealed on the M3 as part of a review into smart motorways

Emergency refuge areas on smart motorways are being painted orange in a bid to make them more visible to drivers.

The first high-viz bay was revealed on the M3 near Camberley in Surrey last week. Highways England says more refuge areas will be painted in the same manner if the trial is successful.

The move is part of a wider review of smart motorway refuge areas called by the Transport Secretary earlier this month.

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Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive at Highways England, said: “We recognise the public concern about smart motorways and we also believe that changes such as these will help drivers have confidence when using them and be clear about where they can stop in an emergency.

“That is why we are trialling these highly visible new style emergency areas. The bright orange colouring will make them as easy as possible to spot and should also discourage drivers from using them in non-emergency situations.”

The RAC recently revealed that despite being built at 1.6-mile intervals, refuge areas on smart motorways are a mystery to 52 per cent of motorists.

Last year the Transport Select Committee branded plans to permanently convert hard shoulders into live running lanes “unacceptable”, after it raised safety concerns over breakdowns and accidents.

Pete Williams, road safety spokesman at the RAC, said: “Breaking down on a motorway can be an incredibly frightening experience. This is heightened by the lack of understanding of what to do on new smart motorway sections due to concerns about where to find safety when there is no hard shoulder or it is operating as a running lane.

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“Smart motorways are becoming an increasingly common feature of our motorways across England as they are rolled-out in effort to tackle congestion but there is still a good deal of misunderstanding about what to do in the event of a breakdown or an accident.”

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Our roads are some of the safest in the world but we are always looking at making them safer. Smart motorways are adding extra lanes to our busiest motorways and – as recent evidence shows – reducing the rate of crashes.

“We are making emergency refuge areas more visible to ensure motorists in trouble can easily identify where to stop safely.”

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