How to outsmart a smart motorway

Filed in Blog by on June 30, 2018 0 Comments

As the government presses ahead with its drive to update large sections of the motorway network to smart motorways, motorists should be aware that smart motorways are very good at doing two things. Firstly, at reducing congestion and secondly (and far less publicised) at catching speeding motorists and fining them.

Indeed, the figures raised so many eyebrows a couple of years ago that the issue of fining speeding drivers was looked into by BBC's flagship early-evening current affairs programme, The One Show. Their results were nothing short of shocking. In just 11 sections of smart motorway totalling just 236 miles, over 1000 motorists were found to be speeding and subsequently fined every single week. So, how do you avoid being caught out? How can you outsmart a smart motorway?

Sticking to the speed limit

Yes, it shouldn't come as any surprise to learn that obeying the speed limit is the best way to avoid a speeding fine on a smart motorway. However, obvious as it seems, it's also very important that you actually understand what the speed limit is in the first place.
The overhead gantries that hang above the motorway display a speed, but they do so in two different ways. A number without a circle is not mandatory, it is simply advisory - often based on weather conditions or obstructions that may lie further ahead. You can legally ignore such a sign. However, a number with a red circle around it is mandatory. This is a temporary new speed limit that must be adhered to.

HADECS 3 and Average Speed

The Highway Agency Digital Enforcement Camera System (HADECS) speed detection cameras that you see on smart motorways are always live. This means that, whatever the circumstances, they will catch any driver that exceeds the 70mph limit.

Another 'hazard' for drivers are average speed cameras. Confusion exists about what average speed cameras are and what they actually do. Basically, average speed cameras measure the average speed of a vehicle between two fixed points. It's as if you are being timed on a stopwatch between the first and second cameras. Of course, the speed you are actually travelling at is easily calculated in the process. If you exceed the speed limit by more than the 'discretion margin' then a speeding ticket will be issued.

If you pass an average speed camera at too high a speed, if you reduce speed immediately, there is a fair chance that this will reduce your average overall enough by the time you pass the second camera to avoid a fine.

‘X’ marks the spot

Finally, never ignore a red ‘X’ sign. This indicates a lane closure ahead. Failure to comply, even a matter of seconds to save time and avoid queues, will almost always result in a fine.

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