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After successful pilot programmes utilising smart motorways and all-lane running schemes to reduce traffic congestion, it seems all but certain that the model will be implemented across the UK in the near future. This has a lot of people worried – especially emergency breakdown service providers who know all too well the perils of attempting to help passengers stranded on the hard shoulder. In light of what appears to be inevitable, now might be a good time to start developing CPC courses focused on all-lane running.

The all-lane running concept is based on using the hard shoulder as an additional lane of travel during peak traffic times. Highways England has already developed a system of smart motorways intended to make it work safely and effectively. These smart motorways are equipped with video cameras, sensors, and other equipment that allows a central control facility to maintain order. Road signs that can be controlled from the remote facility are utilised to open and close lanes and set speed limits.

Dangers Need to Be Addressed

The pilots that Highways England have already run have indeed improved traffic flow as promised. But they have also revealed an inherent weakness: an increase in the seriousness of any accidents that occur on the hard shoulder when open to all-lane travel.

While the system has resulted in fewer accidents due to better traffic management, those accidents that have occurred have tended to be a lot more serious. The reason is simple: cars travelling at a high rate of speed on the hard shoulder quickly come upon broken down vehicles without realising those vehicles are stationary. By the time they understand the situation it is too late to avoid a collision.

Officials say that more needs to be done to reduce such risks, including better education regarding signage. Drivers need to learn how to read road signs (a red X means a lane is closed, for example) and to adhere to them without question. That is where new CPC courses might come in handy.

CPC training is intended to make professional drivers as safe as possible. Courses outlining how smart motorways work would be very helpful, especially for drivers who do not spend as much time on motorways as they do other kinds of roads. Training could focus on all-lane running rules, improper use of emergency refuge areas, paying attention to signage, and the like.

The HGV Training Centre is an approved provider of CPC training for both individual and company drivers. We can custom design CPC courses that enable drivers to meet their legal obligations while also addressing specific things such as all-lane travel.

It would seem as though the era of smart motorways is now upon us. Therefore, it is imperative that we do everything we can to mitigate the risks of all-lane travel. If that includes better training for professionals by way of CPC courses, we are in favour of it. The safer we can make our roads, the safer we will all be.

Sources:

Fleet News UK – http://www.fleetnews.co.uk/news/fleet-industry-news/2016/05/04/safety-concerns-over-use-of-all-lane-motorways

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