Fewer than half of UK drivers know smart motorway rules

Brake and Green Flag survey finds only 48% of UK drivers know the rules for driving on a smart motorway
End of the road

Fewer than half of UK drivers know what the rules are for driving on smart motorways, new research has found.

The report, by road safety charity Brake and breakdown provider Green Flag, surveyed 2,000 UK drivers to find that while three-quarters (75%) of drivers know what a smart motorway is, fewer than half (48%) know the rules for driving on one. A quarter (25%) of drivers disclosed they didn’t know what a smart motorway is, or the rules for driving on one. The findings for drivers in England only, where smart motorways are in operation, tell a similar story: 77% know what a smart motorway is; 52% know the rules for driving on one; 21% do not know what a smart motorway is, or the rules for driving on one.

The Brake and Green Flag report also found that over three-quarters (78%) of drivers leave at least a two-second gap behind the vehicle in front of them, in line with the Highway Code guidelines for safe driving. However, one in five (18%) admit to leaving less than a two-second gap.

The report found only a quarter (26%) of the survey respondents correctly identified that cars need 96m – or 24 car lengths – to stop if travelling at 70mph, while almost two-thirds (63%) incorrectly believe the stopping distance to be less. 

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake, said: “These important findings confirm what we all suspected – drivers are confused about the rules of driving on smart motorways and communication efforts must urgently be stepped up to help avoid more tragic incidents on these roads.

“We welcome the measures the Government has outlined to improve smart motorway safety and urge them to follow this evidence-led approach for all UK roads. With more than 75 deaths and serious injuries on our roads every day, improving road safety must be a priority for this Government.”

Damon Jowett, head of service delivery at Green Flag, said: “While the smart motorways system allows for drivers to get to their destination more easily, understanding of the rules is paramount to ensure road safety. Our latest report has highlighted concerning gaps in driver awareness, and here at Green Flag, we want to help increase driver awareness for motorway driving to ensure these roads are as safe as possible.”

Read the full report here.

1 thought on “Fewer than half of UK drivers know smart motorway rules”

  1. Colin Baker

    I am NOT surprised that a majority of drivers do not know the stopping distance at 70mph in yards/car lengths/meters. As an ex driver trainer I feel that perhaps I should know all these stopping distances by rote, but I always found that this knowledge fell apart when I tried to assess what 90 m is ahead of me.
    When I was coaching regular ‘professional’ drivers at work I invariably found the same problem. I therefore encouraged them to work with a 3 second rule which was very quickly and reasonably accurately assessed and put into practice. I took more time and trouble to impart this information than almost anything else, adding that even 3 seconds is not actually really safe. Once they understood this, their safety while driving immediately improved. However, I do commend Green Flag for their approach and imparting very valuable and useful information. Thank you.
    (P.S. Recently a friend followed me for 30 miles keeping a 4+ second gap, so I bought his meal for him).😋

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