In the south of England, the four-year M4 smart motorway upgrade has entered its final stage, with a new fourth lane and extra road safety features opening between junctions 3 (for Hayes) and junction 8/9 (at Maidenhead).
National Highways has lifted the traffic cones and barriers on the upgrade, which started in 2018. A 60mph speed limit and other interim safety measures will remain in place while final technology tests are carried out.
The four lanes will remain at 60mph while the new technology, including stopped vehicle detection, undergoes tests. Stopped vehicle detection uses radar technology to alert National Highways’ control centre, typically within 20 seconds. Operators can then close lanes with a Red X signal, display speed limits and deploy traffic officers.
Temporary additional CCTV from the roadworks and a free recovery service will remain in place alongside the new permanent systems during the commissioning period. Drivers will also be able to use any of the 16 new emergency areas if they need to stop in an emergency. Once the system is performing to an acceptable level at 60mph the maximum speed will be increased to the national speed limit.
Earlier this year, National Highways launched a new ‘Driving on motorways’ hub which provides information about the main features of smart motorways, and advice and guidance on safer driving and what to do in an emergency.
Image: National Highways.