Drivers are finding smart motorway rules confusing, a new survey suggests – and safety groups fear it could lead to tragedy on the roads.
Less than half (48%) of UK motorists know the rules for using smart motorways, according to a poll commissioned by road safety charity Brake and breakdown recovery firm Green Flag.
It found just over one in four (27%) drivers are aware of what a smart motorway is but do not know the relevant regulations.
And a further quarter (25%) of the 2,010 drivers questioned said they do not even know what a smart motorway is, let alone what the rules are.
The smart motorway network covers around 500 miles in England, with an additional 300 miles planned by 2025.
Smart motorways use traffic management methods including opening the hard shoulder to increase capacity and reduce congestion.
BBC Panorama found at least 38 people have died on stretches of smart motorways in the past five years.
But Highways England says they are safe – or safer – than the motorways they replaced.
Brake director of campaigns Joshua Harris said: “Drivers are confused about the rules of driving on smart motorways and communication efforts must urgently be stepped up to help avoid more tragic incidents on these roads.
“We welcome the measures the Government has outlined to improve smart motorway safety and urge them to follow this evidence-led approach for all UK roads.
“With more than 75 deaths and serious injuries on our roads every day, improving road safety must be a priority for this Government.”