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Author: Subject: Totally baffled by motorway speed limits – smart motorway nonsense
tegwin

posted on 21/11/23 at 01:01 PM Reply With Quote
Totally baffled by motorway speed limits – smart motorway nonsense

I would consider myself a pretty good driver with plenty of experience, well over 150k miles of UK A/B roads and motorway over my 15 years of driving.

Increasingly finding driving more frustrating – particularly with knowing what the speed limit is. With more and more cameras the fear of being punished for a minor indiscretion seems to be increasing.

Driving back along the M42 last night (south/West direction). Smart motorway…. Entered a 50mph roadwork section. After a few miles I passed under a gantry showing all the inside lanes closed - a 50mph over lane 4. Next gantry 40mph, the next gantry 50, then back to 40, then to 30 then nothing on the following gantries– no “end” or “NSL”. Still inside the 50 road works limit. I assume in the variable speed limit zone if you don’t obey the gantry signs you get a fine?!

The inside lanes had no obvious obstruction, no road works etc. If I obey the signs I put myself in the outside lane of an outwardly clear motorway doing 30mph…. A mix of other vehicle speeds, some in the inside lane ignoring the closure, some doing 40, some doing 50, some doing 70 What is one expected to do? My desire to not be smashed from behind over-rides my desire to stick to the 30mph speed limit….. but that results in a potential fine?! How have we ended up with a safety system that is so flawed it starts to become dangerous!?!

Its such a relief when the smart motorway ends and you are back to focussing on driving to conditions rather than fixating on what speed you should be doing.





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craig1410

posted on 21/11/23 at 03:18 PM Reply With Quote
Totally agree with you mate - I wonder how many accidents happen because the driver was watching the speedometer instead of looking out the windscreen!
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russbost

posted on 21/11/23 at 03:39 PM Reply With Quote
It's pretty bizarre & fairly pointless, but judging by how often I see a camera flash, they're getting revenue from some folks.

It's not helped by the fact that some nav apps know which cameras are live so everyone slows up for those, but some peeps slow up for all of them, so you can suddenly get someone hit the brakes unexpectedly.

I find the simplest answer is to take the most left hand lane available that's not got the closure "X", only moving out to overtake, ignore the cameras in between gantries & slow down for the ones warned about. Interestingly the car & Waze, agree on most live cameras, but sometimes one of them flags a camera when the other doesn't, in that instance I don't take chances & slow for the gantry!

I'd agree it probably causes as many accidents as it saves & I really wish they'd put a camera or a plod car on the lanes with a red "X", so many dickheads ignore it, as it clearly doesn't apply to "special" people!






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nick205

posted on 21/11/23 at 04:11 PM Reply With Quote
'tis indeed a complex a confusing world to drive in these days.

I've not been allowed to drive (epilepsy) for nearly 10 years now. Have to be honest I don't miss it that much for the reasons given.

My eldest child is currently learning to drive. He enjoys driving a car, but finds roads, traffic and other drivers fairly irritating. I don't blame him or envy him!

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Prof_Cook

posted on 21/11/23 at 10:04 PM Reply With Quote
The situation as described appears totally at odds with how "smart" motorways are supposed to work. If there was dashcam footage available then I would submit it to my MP and ask them to forward it to the Minister for Department for Transport asking the "smart" motorway operating team to explain how such a situation arose and what the law actually is. IF the MP submits it to the Minister then under Parliamentary convention the Minister WILL respond to the MP...
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coyoteboy

posted on 22/11/23 at 12:18 AM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Prof_Cook
The situation as described appears totally at odds with how "smart" motorways are supposed to work. If there was dashcam footage available then I would submit it to my MP and ask them to forward it to the Minister for Department for Transport asking the "smart" motorway operating team to explain how such a situation arose and what the law actually is. IF the MP submits it to the Minister then under Parliamentary convention the Minister WILL respond to the MP...


This

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Slimy38

posted on 22/11/23 at 08:22 AM Reply With Quote
I do the M6 between Wolverhampton and Stoke on a regular basis, pretty much all 'smart' motorway for the entire journey. Thankfully they're not as bad as the M42 (they just seem broken) but as an example it went 70, 50 and 40 last time I was coming home. The sign said 'reports of debris', but that's all it was, just a report. I saw no evidence of anything.

However, I was less worried about debris and more worried about the other drivers still doing 70+. It's exactly as you say, do you keep adhering to the law knowing that any moment now there could be a 40mph difference between you and the BMW/Tesla coming up behind you?

But of course, we still have a large number of people using the 2nd/3rd lanes as their normal lanes. I once spent an entire journey sat in the left hand lane with my cruise control at 69mph, overtaking (undertaking?) at least a dozen cars all sat in the second or third lane. I know full well I'm in the wrong, but would it have been safer for me to move across four lanes and then move all the way back?

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Slimy38

posted on 22/11/23 at 08:24 AM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by craig1410
Totally agree with you mate - I wonder how many accidents happen because the driver was watching the speedometer instead of looking out the windscreen!


I'm dreading going to Wales next time. My brain can hold 30 quite well, but even so I use cruise control to hold my car at 30 when I'm driving through towns and villages. It doesn't activate at 20, so I will have to pay far too much attention to the speedo.

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russbost

posted on 22/11/23 at 09:15 AM Reply With Quote
"overtaking (undertaking?) at least a dozen cars all sat in the second or third lane. I know full well I'm in the wrong, but would it have been safer for me to move across four lanes and then move all the way back?"

My understanding is that you're not in the wrong. If you are maintaining your speed in the same lane & a car is travelling slower than that in the lane to the offside, I believe you are at liberty to pass - I would obviously be wary of the idiot (who shouldn't be there in the first place!) moving in without checking his mirrors, so have the horn ready!

So far as I'm aware, you are only undertaking if you come up behind a car in the same lane, move to the inside & accelerate to overtake, even then, if you remain in that lane I'm not sure even that is undertaking - tho' it obviously is if you move back out in front of said car ........

Not that there's ever any plod there to Police it anyway & traffic wombles are basically powerless when it comes to prosecution!






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tegwin

posted on 22/11/23 at 10:42 AM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Slimy38
quote:
Originally posted by craig1410
Totally agree with you mate - I wonder how many accidents happen because the driver was watching the speedometer instead of looking out the windscreen!


I'm dreading going to Wales next time. My brain can hold 30 quite well, but even so I use cruise control to hold my car at 30 when I'm driving through towns and villages. It doesn't activate at 20, so I will have to pay far too much attention to the speedo.


This is a totally different conversation and one that adds to the annoyance of driving.

I regularly drive the A470 from South wales up to Snowdonia and there are a number of spots where the 20mph roads are surrounded by fields and then some villages with parked cars etc that are 40mph.... There is no logic or sense to any of it which makes figuring out what the speed limit is, impossible. Back in the day you knew what the speed limit was by looking at your surroundings..... Definitely spend way too much time looking for signs/repeaters than is safe to do but again....I don't want to be fined... There's a lot of new looking cameras dotted through wales as well on lamp posts etc... no idea if they are speed cameras or something else but I don't want to find out.





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tegwin

posted on 22/11/23 at 10:43 AM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by coyoteboy
quote:
Originally posted by Prof_Cook
The situation as described appears totally at odds with how "smart" motorways are supposed to work. If there was dashcam footage available then I would submit it to my MP and ask them to forward it to the Minister for Department for Transport asking the "smart" motorway operating team to explain how such a situation arose and what the law actually is. IF the MP submits it to the Minister then under Parliamentary convention the Minister WILL respond to the MP...


This


I was thinking exactly this when I drove through - Sadly no camera.... Its nuts, others have seen similar things and it sounds like its a known issue and yet nothing is done about it.....





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BenB

posted on 24/11/23 at 04:56 PM Reply With Quote
One of the reasons I now run a dashcam is for this precise situation. Totally agree, all too often there's no signage to say a restriction has ended. I tend to wait until I've gone under two or three gantreys without signs before speeding up but really they should sort it out. Having some cars going 40mph and some doing 70mph (which realistically is going to be 80mh) due to uncertainty is a recipe for a crash!
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SteveWalker

posted on 25/11/23 at 11:22 PM Reply With Quote
Hah, that's easy compared to one journey I had back in the '90s. I was on a business trip to Benghazi and we were being driven from Tripoli to Benghazi by a local driver (who liked to drive so close behind the other car with use that a compact camera could take a photo of the other car's speedo, showing around 160kph - it turned out he'd been a fighter pilot and was "flying formation" on the other car). Anyway, at one point we reached signs for a contraflow and crossed over the unbarriered central reservation of the dual-carriageway, along with everyone else. The only problem was that there was never an end of contraflow sign, nor was there a start of contraflow sign for the oncoming traffic
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JC

posted on 26/11/23 at 06:07 AM Reply With Quote
Funny that, I’ve driven the M42 (against my better judgement!) twice this week and encountered exactly the same random and fluctuating speed limits, and phantom lane closures. Some may say it smacks of revenue generation and trying to catch motorists out on the cameras!

What annoyed me even more is when the limits stopped with no clear ‘national speed limit’ sign displayed - I went past a number of blank gantries which according to my speed awareness course (ahem!) should have been displaying the lower limit if it were still in force. My BMW is excellent at reading speed limit signs so I know it wasn’t just me missing the end of restrictions as it was stuck at 50……rant over lol

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pewe

posted on 27/11/23 at 01:44 PM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by craig1410
Totally agree with you mate - I wonder how many accidents happen because the driver was watching the speedometer instead of looking out the windscreen!


The tin-top has a head-up display which I find useful.
I had considered buying one of those digital, sat nav type head-up displays for the hairdressers - might have prevented me having to attend naughty school this time last year!
Reminder to self - go buy one!!

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Slimy38

posted on 3/2/24 at 08:51 AM Reply With Quote
So I wanted to add to this after a journey last night. M42 northbound, from the M40 to the M6 toll road, so basically the entire 'smart motorway' section. There were roadworks signs that said 50 average speed limit cameras. These were alternating with the gantries which were showing the national speed limit sign. The first gantry sign I got to, I naturally sped up to 70 then 200 yards later saw the 50 with average speed camera.

There were only half a dozen vehicles on the motorway, and it was clear none of us knew what speed limit we were meant to be doing. I've never seen anything like it. I'm actually going to save my dashcam footage in case there is a ticket on it's way to me, it was honestly so ridiculous. It would have been fine if the gantries weren't lit, I'd know it was just 50mph and be done with it. But it was the fact that the gantries specifically had the national speed limit sign on them.

Out of interest does anyone know what takes priority? The roadwork signs or the clearly illuminated gantries?





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Mr Whippy

posted on 3/2/24 at 10:16 AM Reply With Quote
Personally what annoys me is the lazy (more likely deliberate by spiteful road workers) leaving up 50mph signs after all the road works have been cleared ages ago. I can see this will be great fun in the near future with cars fitted with automatic speedometers reading the signs and going nuts at the driver.

Funnily enough years ago this was happening in our village every night, and every night whilst walking the dog I'd hurl their speed signs into the gorse bushes. They did get the message eventually





Fame is when your old car is plastered all over the internet

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coyoteboy

posted on 5/2/24 at 07:24 PM Reply With Quote
Had the same worry myself coming back from harwich to Edinburgh last week. Sections of smart motorway with no end to the limit, sections at odds with the fixed signs, sometimes higher.

Lanes marked closed by red x but then still open for another 2 miles yielding a huge queue in the inside lane and cars hurtling past in the outside 2.

Absolute shambles






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Slimy38

posted on 6/2/24 at 10:06 AM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by coyoteboy
cars hurtling past in the outside 2.



I believe/hope the gantry cameras are meant to catch these, there was a news article a while back that they were going to enforce the red X signs. Instant penalty for anyone travelling through one.

Although that's of little consequence when they're lit far too early and give the temptation of skipping the line of traffic...





555

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coyoteboy

posted on 6/2/24 at 10:22 AM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Slimy38
quote:
Originally posted by coyoteboy
cars hurtling past in the outside 2.



I believe/hope the gantry cameras are meant to catch these, there was a news article a while back that they were going to enforce the red X signs. Instant penalty for anyone travelling through one.

Although that's of little consequence when they're lit far too early and give the temptation of skipping the line of traffic...


They practically can't, and I was one who went through. Consider the situation where you're passing numerous junctions with queues off that start in the inside lane, with you in the outside lane. Up ahead is a cross in the outside two lanes but there is already a queue in the inside lane due to the junctions plus the red cross. Even if you react at that point you cannot get over before the sign, and if you did you'd cause an accident, literally a whole motorway being forced down to 1 lane with that lane already at a standstill. Maybe 2 miles later the cause was shown to be a short strip of roadworks with noone working in it.

In that situation I would literally have had to stop before the X on the outside lane, with nothing in front of me for 2 miles, and indicate left and pull over and wait for someone to let me in. I'm not doing that regardless of a law. I will do what I did, progress slowly toward and into the inside lane as traffic allowed, which was actually at the merge point because no-one will let you in.






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