Highways England plans will give drivers more information about speed limits on smart motorways after concerns were raised they might be disregarded under the new system.
At a House of Commons Transport Committee hearing, Robert Flello MP, said some sections of smart motorway always seemed to have the same 60mph speed limit, and sometimes signs warned of congestion which did not exist.
He said there was ‘a danger in the making’ that motorists would start to ‘switch off’.
He asked David Davies, of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety: ‘Do you feel that there’s an issue in terms of the motorist being bombarded with information to say you must be at this speed … only to find actually that somehow it was inappropriate, and do you think that therefore there’s a risk that motorists will start to ignore those signs and inadvertently speed?’
Mr Davies said: ‘I think we will see a change from Highways England because they now are taking a more proactive and innovative approach to informing motorists about roadworks, about speed limits, and I think that is necessary. I think some of the motoring organisations have called for more explanation of why a particular restriction is in force.’
He said Smart Motorways were relatively new. ‘There’s still a lot of learning to be done about setting the limits, informing drivers and so forth.’
A Highways England spokesman told Transport Network that Variable Message Signs were already used to explain reduced speed limits.
‘Moving forward, the work is going to be looking at how we improve that information that’s on there,’ he added.
In answer to Mr Flello’s point about non-existent congestion, he said sensors sometimes detected the early signs of congestion. If speed limits were then reduced, the congestion could dissipate instead of increasing.