Motorway Hard Shoulders

Topics relating to Advanced Driving in cars
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EasyShifter
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Motorway Hard Shoulders

Postby EasyShifter » Mon Jul 11, 2016 6:29 pm

Not sure whether this is the right place to put this - I've chosen 'cars' because that's what I drive and it's probably more critical for cars than bikes because of the width which leaves us with fewer options.
So here's the issue: do others agree with me that to allow use that leaves a motorway without a hard shoulder available in emergencies is lunacy?
Two examples:
1) I was recently on the M1 southbound somewhere near Milton Keynes. Traffic was solid in 3 lanes at the mandatory 50mph through the seemingly interminable roadworks. Right behind me, so close that I couldn't see the headlights, was a container lorry, and to my left where the hard shoulder should have been was a concrete barrier. A few days earlier I'd attended a talk by a medic who flies with the air ambulance, and he showed us a pic of a car rear-ended by an artic in that kind of situation. It wasn't a pretty sight, and I was trapped in front of this heavy with nowhere to go in the event of an emergency that I recognised and he didn't. The fact that I was allowing extra space in front of my so that I could potentially spread out my braking and think for us both if it became necessary simply incensed the guy so that he did all he could do to intimidate me into going faster. My response o course we to increase the space in front of me and we were in a vicious circle. I left the motorway at the next exit and reset the sat-nav to 'avoid motorways'.
2) On the M northbound just after J21 - where also there are long-term roadworks, a similar situation occurred but it was a closer-run thing. To my left was a high wall with occasional lay-byes and behind me - well, you can guess. ON this occasion it actually happened. Traffic in front slowed and was clearly coming to a halt, I started braking, watching the mirror like a hawk as the heavy got closer. So I sounded the horn to wake the driver up and he hit the brakes dramatically as I steered into a fortuitous recess in the wall and took a few moments to recover my composure.
I'm not a nervous driver - 44 years in the IAM and recently upgraded to a F1RST in a voluntary assessment - but I now avoid motorways where I know there are roadworks. Call it cowardice - I call it good sense.
What worries me is that it's not just roadworks - active traffic management is spreading, and hard shoulders being effectively sacrificed to moving traffic on a routine basis.
It should be illegal, with no exceptions at all, to keep a motorway open without a hard shoulder available for emergency use.
Or do you think differently?
Michael

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jont-
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Re: Motorway Hard Shoulders

Postby jont- » Mon Jul 11, 2016 6:46 pm

Do you also avoid roads like the A14 or A1? (ie long sections of dual carriageway with lots of heavies sometimes intermixed with tractors, and very occasionally the odd suicidal cyclist, but no hard shoulder)

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ChristianAB
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Re: Motorway Hard Shoulders

Postby ChristianAB » Mon Jul 11, 2016 7:15 pm

For 1) go to lane 2 and let the heavy undertake you. Not pretty but hey... Also, maybe use lane 2 or 3 as your new escape options. Tricky I know, since you then need to monitor all the traffic at the same time and play a game of cat and mouse, but it is what it is.

For 2) Same as 1) if you can, when followed by a car you don't trust. Otherwise avoiding these is a perfectly sound solution, and one that I use all the time :D too.

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EasyShifter
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Re: Motorway Hard Shoulders

Postby EasyShifter » Mon Jul 11, 2016 7:45 pm

Agreed about the A14 and A1 - and there are countless other examples. The difference is that on those roads there is no existing hard shoulder so we don't join them expecting one - whereas on the motorway we're accustomed to having one and may not know it's not there until we're committed. Where there isn't one, there isn't one, but the real madness seems to me to be in taking away the one that's already there and sacrificing the safety value on the altar of traffic flow.
As regards other options, in the situations I describe there aren't serious options as the traffic is dense in all three lanes with no speed differentials - whereas with a hard shoulder that's respected there is always the option, you don't need to look for a gap in moving traffic on the hard shoulder.
The thing that prompted my post was hearing the there are serious increases in active traffic management systems under consideration - so we're likely to be losing more of our hard shoulders.
There again why should i worry - I'm retired and can take my time on the nice pretty B roads! (They're also a lot more fun when I'm in a 'progressive drive' mood . . . :D )
Michael

waremark
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Re: Motorway Hard Shoulders

Postby waremark » Mon Jul 11, 2016 10:22 pm

On the one hand I feel that getting rid of hard shoulders is a backwards move which reduces the safety of motorways, but on the other I see the need to increase motorway capacity and of course we lack the funds to do it properly.

I have a specific dislike of the way smart motorways operate. The one I use most often is the M25. It is routine for the variable limits to change many times in a fairly short journey - 70 60 50 60 40 60 70. I find it difficult to remember what limit applies at any point in time. I think it would be better to have a much simpler system of only 2 limits - 70 for normal conditions, though I would prefer 85, and 50 where there is a valid reason for it to be lower. Such a system could be implemented without the expensive matrix signs (which never show a message which I find useful), would be simpler for drivers, and equally effective at increasing motorway safety and capacity when needed.

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Discov8
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Re: Motorway Hard Shoulders

Postby Discov8 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 4:49 am

Very unpleasant seeing nothing but lorry filling the rear view mirror.

I too think it is bad practice to sacrifice the hard shoulder, it's a safe haven for when you have a breakdown eg puncture. Traffic flow must be impeded more by pulling around a broken down vehicle, pushing lane 1 to 2 and lane 2 into 3 etc. I can change a wheel in a few minutes on the hard shoulder and be on my way but far too dangerous with traffic manoeuvring around you. From experience of M25 driving it doesn't take many minutes for a large tailback to be generated from a minor incident or impatient driving action eg bad lane management.

Generally I give lorries a wide berth which includes staying out of lane 1 in roadworks to avoid being the sandwich filling. It's also claustrophobic having a lorry try to undertake you for several hundred metres in slow moving traffic so I make the most of the average speed when practicable.

I try to avoid the variable speed limits and several road works on the lower stretch of the M1 and use the M40/M69 or A roads depending on the time of day.

If I do find myself having to use a motorway witn roadworks or just heavy motorway traffic with an "undesirable" I leave at the next junction where I can immediately rejoin into another part of the traffic flow.

sussex2
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Re: Motorway Hard Shoulders

Postby sussex2 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:02 am

Try driving an MX5 in a similar situation especially given the interior mirror magnifies what is behind (anyone know the reason for that?).
You need the same skill and attitude as a decent biker in order to survive.

I see absolutely nothing wrong in avoiding roads you do not feel comfortable travelling on. I feel sure we all have some road/roads in mind that we would prefer to miss.

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jont-
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Re: Motorway Hard Shoulders

Postby jont- » Tue Jul 12, 2016 7:35 am

waremark wrote:On the one hand I feel that getting rid of hard shoulders is a backwards move which reduces the safety of motorways, but on the other I see the need to increase motorway capacity and of course we lack the funds to do it properly.

I'd prefer to increase speed of traffic by removing road users that won't play nicely, rather than building ever more capacity to be filled by ever lower common denominators. Isn't there research suggesting building capacity just encourages more people to use it?

Give it 10-15 years and the problem will go away anyway as commercial vehicles all become autonomous.

Astraist
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Re: Motorway Hard Shoulders

Postby Astraist » Tue Jul 12, 2016 7:54 am

sussex2 wrote:I see absolutely nothing wrong in avoiding roads you do not feel comfortable travelling on. I feel sure we all have some road/roads in mind that we would prefer to miss.


Interesting point. What's even more interesting is what it is that makes us less comfortable travelling on said road compared to another. Is it just the state of the road itself? Or are there elements such as the profile of traffic (like, precentage of heavies) and it's volume?

Just to illustrate the point, at the southmost point of the Israel there is the resort town of Eilat. The main road leading to it is a single carriageway (although progressivelly being reworked into a dual-carriageway) that is as straight as a ruler, surrounded by the view of the desert, and has a good volume of traffic with lots of B-double lorries, which don't travel on other roads. So this road suffers from head-on collisions every now and than.

Other road choices are longer, more serpentine and entirely single-carriageway. There are more remote and a small part was in the past subjected to terrorist threats, being on the Sinai-border, but the volume of traffic is less and the road is more engaging, so many drivers choose that road and ultimately less collisions happen there.

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Synchromesh
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Re: Motorway Hard Shoulders

Postby Synchromesh » Tue Jul 12, 2016 10:00 pm

jont- wrote:Isn't there research suggesting building capacity just encourages more people to use it?


Say's law. Increased road capacity causing increased traffic is the classic example of it.


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