To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that smart motorways, when activated, react more speedily to changing traffic conditions to avoid motorists being subject to unnecessary lower speed limits when the traffic conditions have changed for the better; and if he will make a statement.
Variable speed limits on smart motorways have been proven to smooth traffic flow during busy periods and in the event of an incident. The speed limits are set automatically in real time by a system that is tuned to match local traffic patterns. When congestion starts to build up, reduced speed limits are set in time to help prevent stop-start conditions. Drivers may not see what caused the lower speed limit, and the system clears these restrictions as soon as they are no longer needed.
The technology on smart motorways has been updated to improve performance and is regularly monitored, with adjustments made to speed limit thresholds where necessary. Highways England’s Regional Control Centre operators have full CCTV coverage of smart motorways and can manually set or override the system if required.