UK gov announces Road Pricing 2.0 - Managed Motorway
'A high level of monitoring and compliance is needed'
The UK government has announced its plans for the national road network in coming years, assigning funding for a variety of different projects. Transport Minister Ruth Kelly has also published plans for a future of "managed motorways", which will require "a high level of monitoring and compliance to make the package work".
"I am determined to get the best from our road network," said Ms Kelly in a statement issued this morning. "The greatest barrier to this is congestion. It is frustrating and has serious consequences for the economy and the environment.
"The £6 billion I am announcing today will allow ... more innovative approaches to the way we use our major roads. This includes measures like opening the hard shoulder when traffic is at its heaviest ...
"Where we add new capacity through measures like this I am also interested to see what role car share or tolled lanes could play in helping traffic flow more smoothly - giving motorists a choice about how they make their journeys."
The government's thoughts were outlined in more detail in a Command Paper, now available for download (pdf). There is a good deal about ordinary widening and construction schemes, and various other measures.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the Command Paper is Chapter 5 - "Towards the Managed Motorway". This discusses the various pilot schemes which have been used on busy stretches of motorway to increase the number of vehicles able to flow through. The aspect of these plans the government prefers to headline is the use of the hard shoulder as a temporary extra lane at peak times.
However, much of the schemes' effectiveness actually comes from temporarily lowered speed limits. Forcing the vehicles to travel slowly reduces the amount of sudden braking which takes place, preventing a strengthening ripple effect moving back along a lane of traffic and bringing it to a halt. If nobody is able to drive faster than, say 50 or 40 mph in dense traffic, the stream of vehicles seldom halts and many more will get past a given point in a given time than if drivers were allowed to go faster.
So far, so good. However, even the normal 70mph speed limit is widely ignored on British motorways, and in order to compel a mass of drivers to go slower still you need to take some fairly draconian steps, as the government explains.
Motorists appear to understand the rationale for the regime, enjoy the improved reliability it delivers, and accept the need for high levels of monitoring and compliance ...
While it is clear to road users that compliance is necessary ... experience tells us that effective enforcement back-up is also needed to maintain high levels of compliance ... So, we need to look at the arrangements that would have to be put in place.
The Command Paper doesn't really specify what these arrangements might be at this point. Schemes thus far have tended to use Automatic Numberplate Recognition cameras (ANPR) to monitor a car's average speed along a stretch of road - and incidentally, to log its presence at a given place and time. This can be useful for other things than traffic enforcement, of course: it's well known that the London Congestion Charge ANPR system is now linked in real time to Met SO15 - the UK's secret terror police.
Congestion on the motorways is your fault, John Public!
Contrary to what people think, there is no "undertake rule" in the UK. If you read the highway code, you will find that you are allowed to pass traffic on the left when there are queues of traffic.
On one of those police propaganda programmes on the tele, I saw the pigs "undertaking". They referred to it as something like nearside passing, and if the police do try to do you for "undertaking" it will usually be something like driving without due care and attention.
The middle lane morons in this country (the majority of drivers, if you look at the behaviour of motorists on the motorways) are one of the largest causes of congestion on the roads. But as they seem to be a large chunk of society, the government does its usual thing of avoiding insulting the voters. Just like how when kids behave like little shits it's always the parents' fault, the government will not say this as those parents are also voters.
If you are a middle lane moron (you probably are), there is help available:
Infact, on the M6 not long ago I flashed my main beams at a middle lane moron from lane 1 as I was approaching, with a police range rover behind me. I then had to move all the way to lane 3, and back to one to pass him. The pigs also flashed their lights, and the idiot did then actually move over. So I can attest that the police don't mind if you give these clowns some abuse!
I remember when I first passed my test, the middle lane philosophy seems good for numerous reasons - you're not the fastest on the m'way, so the pigs won't pull you. You don't get stuck behind things..... but that is only due to not paying attention far enough ahead on the road.
The fact that probably over 99% of motorway users have never had motorway driving lessons will also account for the levels of stupidity on the motorways, and in turn the congestion. The next time you are on the motorway and it concetinas, notice how lane 3 concetinas first, then two, and then maybe 1. It is due to people not driving on the left, like we are meant to in this country!
Affordable Trains Might Help
No doubt it's been mentioned, but affordable rail travel might help with congestion.
Over the last 3 months I have spent £280 on petrol travelling to and from work(40 mile round trip). If I were to use the train (with a monthly season ticket) I would have spent £365. So by using the car I've saved £85. Not really a hard choice to make.
Also before opening up the hard shoulders how about giving tickets to the drivers who live in the middle lane. Who knows if all 3 lanes were to be used properly there wouldn't be any need to use the hard shoulder.
Come Back, Marples - All is Forgiven.
@Thinking Laterally - Anonymous Coward:
Yup, tried before and worked beautifully. They called them Motorway Patrols. Think there are some examples in the Transport Museum.
If they are ever restored, perhaps one solution to Motorway congestion would be to ensure that access is permitted only to those who have passed a (decent) test to prove their common sense and ability. Those who drive who dive from Lanes 2 or 3 around 50 yards from their daily exit need not apply......you know who you are. Twinning lorry drivers permanently excluded.