Cheshire is home to some of the UK’s busiest stretches of motorway with high volumes of traffic at peak times. To manage traffic flow and reduce delays, the most congested sections of the M6 and M62 in Cheshire have seen the introduction of All Lanes Running (ALR), and work is now underway on a section of the M56.
The Channel Five TV series “Motorway Cops: Catching Britain’s Speeders” follows the activities of Cheshire’s Roads and Crime Unit. The officers spend lots of time on the motorway network and they recognise that drivers want to know more about what driving on ALR motorways means for their safety.
It’s every motorist’s responsibility to drive safely; so, with the help of our Roads and Crime Unit, we’ve compiled a handy guide to using ALR.
Highways England uses technology on ALR motorways to smooth the flow of traffic, help to reduce delays and improve safety.
electronic message signs that display red X signals and variable speed limits
sensors to monitor traffic volumes
CCTV cameras and emergency areas with emergency roadside telephones
If there's no hard shoulder, use an emergency area where possible
There is no hard shoulder with ALR motorways. It works by replacing the traditional hard shoulder with a live lane and Emergency Refuge Areas (ERAs).
These are placed at regular intervals and painted orange, with orange SOS signs to show where they are.
Emergency areas are wider than a hard shoulder and set back from live traffic lanes.
Each of these areas has an emergency phone where you must contact Highways England for help. They'll make sure that lane one is clear for you to rejoin the motorway safely.
If you’re in distress, Highways England can contact the police on your behalf.
ERAs are not for having a rest or taking a break, they are for genuine emergencies.
Stay vigilant and pay attention to the electronic message boards
These are above or next to the carriageway and sometimes there is a sign above each lane. They are controlled by Highways England regional control centres and are enforceable by law.
The signs and signals are used to warn you of hazards ahead. For example, there may be an incident, fog, a spillage, emergency services or road workers on the carriageway, which you may not immediately be able to see.
A single sign or signal can display advice, restrictions and warnings for all lanes.
Lane specific signs and signals can display advice, restrictions and warnings that apply to individual lanes.
Cameras monitor traffic flow and speed limits can be changed depending on the road conditions.
Amber flashing lights
These signals warn of a hazard ahead. You should:
reduce your speed
be prepared for the hazard
only increase your speed when you pass a signal that is not flashing, or a sign displaying a national speed limit or the word ‘END’, and you are sure it is safe to do so.
Red flashing lights
A lane is closed if there is a red X above it and it's against the law to drive under one.
Lanes are closed when there's a broken-down vehicle, an accident or obstruction and, most importantly, when people are on the road. These could be stranded road users, emergency services, people working to repair the network, or breakdown crews.
MUST follow the instructions on signs in advance of a closed lane to move safely to an open lane.
MUST NOT go beyond the sign in any lane or use the hard shoulder to avoid the road closure unless directed to do so by a police or traffic officer.
MUST NOT drive in a closed lane. A sign will inform you when the lane is no longer closed, by displaying a speed limit or the word ‘END’.
Be aware that:
there can be several hazards in a closed lane.
emergency services and traffic authorities use closed lanes to reach incidents and help people in need.
where the left lane is closed at an exit slip road, this means that the exit cannot be used.
England’s motorways are some of the safest in the world but there is more that we can do to ensure that they are as safe as they can be.
Trust the signs. Remember, the signs are there for a good reason and must never be ignored.
The emergency services need to use closed lanes to get to incidents, if you’re tempted to ignore the signs think of the consequences. Imagine being stranded on the motorway, wouldn’t you want your fellow motorists to keep out of your closed lane?
Be aware of others’ blind spots, especially HGVs. Collisions occur when motorists swerve into the path of another vehicle.
Keep left, hogging the second and third lanes will affect traffic flow and annoy other motorists.
Maintain a safe distance, tailgating is dangerous and won’t get you to your destination any faster.
Don’t misuse your mobile phone. Photographing or filming crash sites is illegal and unacceptable. If your loved one was involved in an incident, would you want to find out about it on social media?
Don’t drive aggressively. Be considerate of other road users and reduce road rage.