General News


Monday 6th December 2004


Pilot scheme could go ahead on the M42 next year

Lorries could be banned from overtaking in a trial on the M42 next year. The Highways Agency is hoping to set up a scheme on the West Midlands motorway that forces lorries to stay in one lane. While the idea is still in the consultation phase, if it gets the green light it could start early in 2005. if successful, it could be extended to other motorways.

The idea is to avoid the problem of one lorry overtakes the other with a miniscule speed differential, thereby blocking the motorway for miles. One a two-lane road, this means empty tarmac stretches for miles in front of the snail's pace manoeuvre. A similar scheme in the Netherlands helped increase road capacity for four per cent.

Freight operators, in the form of the Freight Transport Association (FTA), were less enthusiastic than PistonHeads readers are likely to be. FTA freight manager Colin Hagan told the Times: "This will set an alarming precedent and we are concerned that all heavy goods vehicles could be forced to travel in the same lane at the speed of the slowest."

The FTA's solution is to allow hard shoulder running, although RAC spokesperson Susie Haywood commented that hard shoulder running was "too simplistic". Supporting the M42 scheme, she said, "Motorists will certainly welcome the trial, which is not about penalising lorries but is trying to deal sensibly with a specific, limited stretch of heavily congested two-lane motorway."