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Blog: hopeless hard shoulder highways

  • Managed Motorways mean hard shoulder motoring on M25
  • Part of a project to ease congestion on famously busy road
  • Will it help? Vote in our poll or email us your thoughts

There’s the possibility that the Highways Agency will be opening hard shoulders on the M25 as part of a ‘Managed Motorway’ system to help control traffic.

Members of the public have been invited to look at plans for a 15-mile stretch of the motorway, between junctions five and seven, being converted in an effort to ease congestion. The system includes the opening of hard shoulders during periods of congestion along with variable speed limits.

Now, as a driver who does over 1,000 miles per week, I simply can’t imagine this is a viable solution to ease much congestion. There’s one very good reason for this: drivers in the UK don’t generally use the ‘slow lane’.

It’s well known that many drivers don’t use the left-hand lane at all, preferring instead to stick in one of the over-taking lanes and clogging up busy routes. In fact, in a recent Parkers poll on what you believe is the worst driving habit on UK roads almost 30% of respondents picked lane-hogging.

The problem is obvious: if people aren’t moving over to let others overtake then it creates a bottleneck. We’re not allowed to undertake, so use of this extra lane on the left is unlikely to fix very many congestion-related traffic problems at all.

The idea for Managed Motorways was first introduced in 2006 on the M42 as a pilot scheme, where it’s claimed accident rates dropped by more than 50% in three years.

If approved, the Managed Motorway sections of the M25 could be installed as soon as 2013.

So, what do you think? Will opening the hard shoulders up during periods of congestion really help ease traffic problems? Vote in our poll below or email in at feedback@parkers.co.uk