January 9, 2014

As the UK economy struggles to get back on its feet, red tape crazed bureaucrats dealt our national fortunes a fresh blow this week with the announcement of proposed speed restrictions on sections on that vital artery of commerce the M1 Motorway to improve something called “air quality”!

Motoring champions RAC warned that this EU inspired insanity will “inevitably have a negative impact on business efficiency and individual mobility.” Wasn’t it only yesterday [couple of years actually, Ed] when conservative politicians said they would be looking to raise motorway speed limits so we can all get to our next meeting faster?

And all so that the benighted citizens of Mansfield, Chesterfield and Sheffield can breath a little easier. Talk about a lost cause!

So when you find yourself dawdling along through South Yorkshire at just 60mph you’ll know who to blame: politicians, Eurocrats and Dee Dars!

RAC spokesbeing Dave Busily worries that these new proposals could “pave the way for similar restrictions on other sections of motorway” and further worries that they “would certainly negate some of the current benefits of operating this section as a smart motorway.”

Smart motorways, you will doubtless recall are the kind where the hard shoulder sometime isn’t the hard shoulder any more and is now an extra lane. This not only allows more cars to drive side by side, thus easing congestion, improving journey times, and spreading any air quality compromising emissions out more evenly (and therefore harmlessly) over a wider area, but also creates a more involving and energising experience for those breaking down on the affected sections of motorway at affected times of day.

The good news is that – at more or less the same time it announced its absurd speed reduction proposals – the Highwayman’s Agency this week also announced that it is planning turn over 100 miles of motorway smart on a full time basis. This will include two sections of the M25 (J5 to 7 and J23 and 27) as well as certain sections of the M1 and M6.

Inevitably safety concerns have been raised. Some less experienced drivers could apparently feel a bit nervous about coming to a halt in one lane of a hardshoulderless motorway if they fail to make it to the nearest “refuge area”.

But Dave Williams of GERM Motoring Assist this week offers Feet News some valuable tips on how to avoid such problems. The first thing to do is to make sure you are not going to suffer any kind of mechanical problems before you drive anywhere, he explains.
“We always recommend motorists carry out checks before setting off but it’s particularly important if they are going on long journeys and especially if they know they will be driving on motorways,”Dave says, adding, “It’s also important to be prepared if the worst should happen.”  

So basically get yourself a high vis vest, a helmet and other protective clothing, take sandwiches, a thermos and breakdown warning signage (maybe some cones as well?), practice hugging/hopping over side-of-road barriers, sprinting in a straight line etc, and above all don’t panic!

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