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A LOOK BACK INTO THE FUTURE OF MOTORWAYS


IF YOU’RE EVER ON ‘MILLIONAIRE’, RETAIN THIS KNOWLEDGE - IT COULD DOUBLE YOUR MONEY!


SOME INTERESTING FACTS


The longest road in the world is the Pan-American Highway, which starts in Prudhoe Bay Alaska, ending in Argentina, totalling 18,641 miles. Italy built the first motorway in the world in 1924.


Britain’s first motorway was the Preston by-pass which opened in 1958 at a cost of nearly £3million. It was just over eight miles in length and planning started in 1937, but until the Special Roads Act 1949 came into force providing the construction of roads reserved for special classes of traffic, motorways were then classed as special roads.


There are three types of smart motorways:


• dynamic hard shoulders, where the hard shoulders are temporarily opened up to traffic


• all lane running (ALR) where the full width of the road is useable with emergency refuge areas alongside


• controlled three or more lanes, a hard shoulder and variable speed limits.


In this small island of ours we have 2,173 miles of motorway and every day we rely on them. Before motorways we had trunk roads and there were thirty of them in the UK. Trunk roads were listed on ordnance survey maps with the letter (T) after their number. A trunk road which has been upgraded to a motorway will have a (M) to denote that motorway regulations apply. For example A1(M) in England and the A74(M) in Scotland.


There are fifty motorways in the UK, which includes seven in Scotland, and 19 roads have been upgraded to motor- ways with the letter M. The controversial smart motorways have been in the UK since 2006, the M42 in the West Midlands being the first one. At the present time there are more than 400 miles of smart motorways and the problems we have with them, apart from reducing conges- tion at certain times of the day, are many.


There are eighteen recommendations by the government to tackle the safety of these smart motorways, including abolishing dynamic hard shoulders, speeding up detection technology for stopped vehicles and building more emergency refuge areas.


92


One of the concerning problems of these smart motorways is a big rise in near-misses and motorists breaking down on active lanes. The Automobile Association (AA) made a Freedom of Information request to Highways England, between 2017 and 2019. Motorway lanes were closed for 945 hours due to vehicle breakdowns. If you break down on the live lane of a smart motorway and you cannot pull into one of the emergency refuge areas located not at reg- ular intervals, you have to try to pull in as close as you can to the nearside boundary or grass verge. It is a nerve rack- ing experience, especially when traffic is racing past you.


I do hope you stay safe on our motorways.


Information for this article was collated from Highways England and newspaper articles.


https://www.roads.org.uk/sites/default/files/articles/ope ning-booklets/prestonbypass.pdf


Ian Hall, Chairman SHPHA Southampton Hackney and Private Hire Association Southampton hackney and private hire drivers in our city www.southamptontaxis.org


APRIL 2021


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