On a long trip in your classic, the one thing you cross your fingers over is the threat of failing to proceed. It happens to us all at some point and always in the most inconvenient location: the dreaded breakdown.
Until 14 April, had you been on one of the nation’s busiest motorways at least you had the solace of the hard shoulder. Not any more… Since then, the M25 lost this refuge to ‘all lanes running’. Between junctions 23 and 25 (the A1 and the A10 Great Cambridge road), the M25 has gained an extra lane – but at the loss of the hard shoulder. Temporary hard shoulder usage has been in place for a while; however this is the first instance of a physical removal of the facility instead replaced with an emergency refuge area (lay-by) every 1.5 miles.
Simply coast to this point, argue the Highways Agency and safely park. Fair enough, but should you suffer a blowout, component seizure or sudden halting failure – what then? The all lanes running section of the M25 is part of the new era of ‘Smart motorways‘ – fully CCTV-monitored highways. If your vehicle stops so will that section of motorway – an overhead matrix sign will display a Red X indicating the upcoming lane closure. Traffic will divert round your stricken vehicle until a Highways Agency response vehicle arrives. That’s the theory.
The worst possible reality? You coast to a halt with no warning (or ability to warn that 40-tonne juggernaut following you), get several angry horns, toot as several vehicles nearly collide with your pride and joy – all while you struggle to clamber over 2ft of filthy Armco crash barrier. Don’t even think of attempting a quick fix!
I am a daily commuter of that section of the motorway, and I’m not convinced. Not by the analysis, and certainly not by the Highways Agency’s total lack of roadside information through the affected area – just the occasional matrix warning about the Red X. There wasn’t any prior notification of this change – just a sudden implementation overnight. The Highways Agency has produced several colourful information displays, yet chose not to post a single one roadside… just be careful out there in your classic.
For further useful information follow these Highways Agency links