Bright orange emergency refuge area trialled on the M3

Bright orange emergency refuge area trialled on the M3

Highways England is trialling a new-style emergency refuge area on smart motorways, with a highly visible orange road surface and better signs to help improve its visibility.

The aim is to make the refuge areas more obvious to drivers, so that they understand what to do if they have a breakdown or are involved in an accident. It's also hoped that it will encourage drivers to only use them in emergency situations.

The first of the new emergency areas has opened on the M3 near Camberley, and more upgrades are planned if the trial is successful.

The orange emergency area was welcomed by the RAC, which has been calling for more education for drivers using smart motorways.

Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, said: "Breaking down on a motorway can be an incredibly frightening experience. This is heightened by the lack of understanding of what to do on new smart motorway sections due to concerns about where to find safety when there is no hard shoulder or it is operating as a running lane.

"Smart motorways are becoming an increasingly common feature of our motorways across England as they are rolled-out in effort to tackle congestion but there is still a good deal of misunderstanding about what to do in the event of a breakdown or an accident.

"Today's announcement by Highways England that it is trialling a bright orange SOS-signed emergency refuge area (ERA) is good news as this will significantly improve visibility and make it easier for drivers to find a place of relative safety. The planned development also includes a clear indication of where to stop, additional distance markers between ERAs, and better signage with the internationally recognised SOS acronym to improve understanding of how they should and shouldn't be used. We hope this will be rapidly adopted across existing and all new smart motorways."

Williams added, however, that the RAC is still concerned about the long distances between refuge areas on many smart motorways and said that safety would be further enhanced with additional ERAs to reduce the likelihood of vehicles being stranded in running lanes.

Highways England is currently reviewing the design and spacing of emergency areas on smart motorways, with a report due to be published in the autumn.

Do you drive on smart motorways? Do you think the emergency refuge areas need to be more visible?


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Posted 19 July 2017 by Jodie Salter

Tags: area, emergancy, motorway, RAC, refuge

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