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Plans for motorway car-sharing lane scrapped

Study says it could have increased accidents

test driving a car

Plans for a car-sharing lane on a busy stretch of Britain’s longest motorway have been scrapped by the Government.

The high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane scheme, planned between junctions seven and 10 on the M1 north of London, has been abandoned as it ‘could lead to an increase in accidents’, a feasibility study said.

It had been hoped to have the lane on the outside lane of the motorway at the point where the road runs through sections of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

HOV lane

The feasibility study said: ‘Further work has suggested that this could lead to an increase in accidents, due to an increased risk of vehicles in the outside HOV lane ‘undertaking’ slower vehicles in that lane.

‘There is currently no viable camera that allows for remote or automated enforcement of vehicle occupancy, so enforcement relies on police presence.

‘Location of the HOV in the outside lane would make enforcement more difficult, because of the speed of the traffic, and the absence of refuge areas or suitable locations for pulling vehicles over.

‘Police pulling over non-compliant vehicles could also introduce additional safety risks.

‘For these reasons we do not consider that the proposal developed for the M1 is the right solution for this location, and that there are likely to be limited opportunities for successful outside lane HOV lanes, at least until camera technology can be developed to support compliance.’

Hard shoulders

Details of the abandonment of the M1 plan was covered by just two paragraphs in an 81-page document put on the Department for Transport’s website.

Its publication coincided with Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly’s announcement of an extension to the scheme allowing drivers to use motorway hard shoulders to ease congestion.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: ‘HOV lanes remain an important part of our congestion-tackling toolkit and we will continue to consider them for use across the network.

‘The Highways Agency is currently building an HOV lane near Bradford and we expect it to be open in a matter of weeks. The M1 junction 7-10 will now be equipped with controlled motorway technology – similar to that in operation on the M25 – to maximise traffic flows and improve safety.’

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