Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has confirmed plans to ease traffic flow on selected motorways by opening up hard shoulders at peak times.
Following a trial on the M42 near Birmingham, Kelly has announced £150-million plans to develop the scheme on all the motorways around Birmingham, and has also launched a feasibility study into extending the scheme elsewhere.
'New traffic-management techniques, like hard-shoulder running and varying speed limits, offer practical and cost-effective solutions to cutting congestion. I now want to explore whether other motorways could benefit from similarly creative measures,' said Kelly.
The M42 trial recorded benefits for motorists, the environment and the economy.
When the hard shoulder was opened during peak periods, journey times on the northbound carriageway fell by a quarter, while drivers were 27% more likely to be able to predict their journey time. Average fuel consumption fell by 4%, and vehicle emissions were reduced by 10%.
Furthermore, 84% said they did not feel having the hard shoulder open to traffic was compromising their safety. This is borne out by the fact that the personal injury rate fell from 5.2 per month to 1.5 per month on the section of the M42 where the scheme was trialled.
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