Smart Motorways, Speed Cameras and Speeding Offences

4th July 2017 Driving Offences

It's an all too familiar site for drivers, on the M1, M4, M5, M20, M25, M40, M42, M60, M62, M42 and M6. SMART motorways, otherwise known as managed motorways. These motorways are on the increase, and coming to a motorway near you.

In 2013, the SMART motorways hit the headlines when I became aware of flaws within the prosecution of cases in particular on the M42/M6 Toll amongst other areas. This resulted on
the flaws hitting all national newspapers and news channels,

Prior to this, most were unfamiliar with these networks until they slowly started gaining publicity. If you were one of the unlucky drivers before this, then you may have received a
Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP). How often have you seen signs advising 50 miles per hour and you have not followed it. These SMART motorways made it mandatory to restrict
your speed, and failure to do so resulted in further action from the Police.

What is a SMART Motorway
SMART Motorways were brought into place by actively controlling traffic flow, and aimed at improving the journey for drivers. They actively vary speed limits (which you have to adhere
to) and also open up sections of the hard shoulder to increase traffic flow. Highways England states the following 'by varying speed limits and using the hard shoulder as an extra lane
during busy times, we can help you to avoid having to brake of be at a standstill so that you get where you need to be'.

Having travelled on these SMART motorways for years, I do believe that they work. However, there are those who believe that it is just another ploy to penalise motorists with speeding offences. The following advice is provided by Highways England 'speed limits displayed in a red ring are mandatory and must be followed. We use 60, 50, 40 limits on all types of SMART motorways. . In light of this, is it necessary for speed cameras on SMART motorways, when there purpose was to increase traffic flow, I will let you answer that question, as it will cause much debate.

Are some cameras still active on SMART Motorways without the red ring?
YES. Each police force appears to deal with them differently; some allow a tolerance and some do not. On the M42/M6 I have had a number of clients who have received a Notice of
Intended Prosecution (NIP) for speeding in a 70 miles per hour location. The speeds I have received are 100 miles per hour and above. That is not to say it is okay to travel up to 99
miles per hour and you will be perfectly fine. It is advisable to stay within the speed limits for all areas you travel. This is a word of warning that, just because the signs are not active does
not mean that the cameras are not. Highways England confirms the following 'When no speed limit is shown the national speed limit of 70 miles per hour in place and can be
enforced by police'.

I have recently requested information from a variety of Police Forces to ask the question, what tolerance do you allow when the signs are inactive?

What Should I do if I am caught speeding on a SMART Motorway?
In the first instance the speed will be a critical factor. Majority of clients I have dealt with over the years whom are caught speeding on SMART motorways are excessively over the
speed limit, where disqualification is a concern. Most fail to adjust their speed in time and some just ignore them completely, wrongly assuming it is advisory. The majority of offences
I come across are on the M42/M6 southbound or northbound coming off the M6 Toll. Drivers whom travel this route will know, some treat the M6 Toll (as its private and you are
paying for use of it) as the Autobahn and trying to get to the other side as quickly as possible. How many of us have reached the toll and eager to get ahead of all other drivers,
by reaching 0 70 miles per hour as quickly as possible. Unfortunately there will be those, who continue to increase their speed and carry on. Unfortunately for them, there is an
active SMART motorway speed camera waiting.

If you have travelled this route excessively then you are likely to be attending Warwickshire Justice Centre (Leamington Spa Magistrates Court) for excess speed. If you do find yourself
in this situation call me or email for a chat to see the options available to you.

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Hojol Uddin is a Partner and Head of Department located in Manchesterin our Driving Offences department

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