On the Shoulder

One of the developments in the work that’s been going on with the M1 has been a new congestion relief scheme.  It’s been piloted on other motorways (mainly around Birmingham) and has now made its way to junctions 7 to 15 on the M1.

The plan is surprisingly simple, but takes a lot of work beforehand. Basically, the hard shoulder becomes a fourth lane in times of need, and new ‘refuges’ off the hard-shoulder are put in for cars that actually have broken down.

It’s a good scheme, and since going ‘live’ in early December it’s worked well, except for one assumption that has turned out to be rather flawed.  And that assumption is this : that drivers actually read motorway signs.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about drivers who can’t (or won’t) think ahead and so fuck up traffic for everyone, and this is a similar situation.

Basically, when you can use the hard shoulder, the road information signs read “Congestion. Use hard shoulder“.  You’d think that was pretty simple, and easy to understand. But no, most drivers appear to not see it, or not understand it.

How do I know? Because I do use the hard shoulder, and blast past the drivers in the other three lanes. (When I say ‘blast’, I’m usually going 60 – it’s just the other three lanes are stuck and doing 40) It’s perfectly legal, because I’m not jogging between lanes, just sticking to my inner lane and going past slower traffic.  But when I do, a good 40% of the drivers flash their lights at me, implying (I assume) that they think I’m doing something wrong. Which implies that they’ve not read the signs, that they think the hard shoulder isn’t for driving on.

It’s not common yet, which could be the other reason people don’t get it. Whether it’ll catch on, I don’t know. But I do know it works pretty well so long as you can read the damn signs.

2 Comments on “On the Shoulder”

  1. Never, ever, ever drive in South Africa Lyle. You would never have the words to describe how scary it is!!!!

  2. lyle says:

    The odds of it happening are low for the next couple of years, it has to be said.

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