Two fifths of drivers avoid travelling in lane one of a Smart Motorway where the hard shoulder has been permanently converted into a running lane, according to a survey conducted by motoring group the AA.
This compares to 85% of motorists who said they would drive in lane one of a traditional three lane motorway with a permanent hard shoulder, the survey revealed.
“Despite all the talk about improving traffic flow and easing congestion by having more lanes, it seems that drivers are voting with their wheels by avoiding converted hard shoulders and clogging up the other lanes,” said AA president Edmund King.
Reasons given for steering clear of the converted hard shoulder on Smart Motorways include fear of coming across a broken down vehicle, which was cited by 37% of those who avoid the lane. Meanwhile one in 10 said they believed lane one was ‘the lorry lane’.
“Drivers are fearful that, with the current lack of Emergency Refuge Areas, they will come across broken down vehicles and have little chance to avoiding collisions,” added Edmund King.
“We need more education for drivers using smart motorways and clearly they do not trust the schemes in their current state.”
Documents produced by Highways England analysing two stretches of Smart Motorway on the M25 also indicate that traffic flow is significantly lower on lane one than other lanes within the schemes.