Review of hard-shoulder running shows fall in accidents

Allowing hard-shoulder running (HSR), where drivers can use the hard shoulder of motorways during peak times, has cut accident rates in England and reduced journey times, Government figures show.

The statistics were produced as Roads Minister Mike Penning officially opened the latest HSR scheme - on a 6.7-mile (10.8km) stretch of the M6 in the West Midlands.

HSR on this stretch is also being combined with a UK first which will see the hard shoulders between the slip roads at J10 converted into full-time running lanes on both sides of the motorway to ease congestion.

Mr Penning said that accidents had more than halved since HSR was introduced on a stretch of the M42 (from junction 3A to junction 7), to the east of Birmingham in 2006.

Journey times have also improved between the M40 junction 16, near Lapworth and M6 junction 5, near Birmingham, since the introduction of two sections of HSR.

The M42 latest statistics follow earlier figures which showed that over a 12-month period journey time reliability improved by 22 per cent on the route and emissions were reduced by up to 10 per cent due to traffic flowing more smoothly.

Mr Penning said: "The Government is committed to delivering transport projects which improve journeys and help economic growth so I am pleased to open England's newest HSR scheme.

"This will provide much needed additional capacity - easing congestion and making journey times more reliable for road users, including hauliers and commuters - on this vital national transport spine."

He went on: "I am also pleased to announce that newly-published research confirms this system for increasing capacity significantly reduces accidents and reduces journey times.

"These benefits show why the Government has committed to start work on 11 other Managed Motorways schemes by 2015."

Managed Motorways use a range of technologies and operational systems to actively control traffic. Features such as variable mandatory speed limits and opening up the hard shoulder to traffic at peak times improve traffic flow and reduce congestion, whilst delivering safer journeys.

The M6 scheme includes 137 lane specific signals, 34 driver information signs and 21 overhead lightweight gantries. The signals show drivers which lanes are open to traffic and when mandatory speed limits are in operation. The driver information signs use text and pictograms to give drivers information about the road ahead. In addition there are 15 emergency refuge areas with emergency telephones for use when hard shoulder running is operating.

A Three-Year Safety Review, published by the Highways Agency, looks at accident data before and after the M42 pilot scheme was delivered. This report shows that:
> Personal injury accidents have reduced by more than half (55.7 per cent) since hard shoulder running was introduced. Overall, on motorways, there was a 21 per cent reduction in personal injury accidents over the same period making M42 pilot well above the national average.
> The monthly average number of accidents has reduced from 5.08 to 2.25.
> The number of fatal and serious accidents has reduced from 0.82 to 0.17.
> There has been a reduction in the monthly mean number of Killed and Seriously Injured (KSI) casualties from 1.15 to 0.19.
> The number of casualties per billion vehicle miles travelled (bvmt) has reduced by 61 per cent since hard shoulder running was introduced. Overall on motorways, there was a 20 per cent reduction in causalities per billion vehicle miles travelled (bvmt) over the same period making the M42 pilot well above the national average.

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