Paul Jolly: Smart motorway common sense 

Joseph Bulmer

Paul Jolly, classic car specialist and valuer:

There is much in the press at present about the rights and wrongs of these new motorway sections, mostly around safety, or lack of, in the event of a breakdown if you cannot reach the refuge area.

Instead of a continuous hard shoulder for breakdowns, there are intermittent safety refuges about a mile apart.

In the event of a problem, it is essential you make it to these recessed bays even if it means limping on best you can with a flat tyre.

Unless your car is on fire, you must do all you can to keep it going however awful it sounds and despite any vibrations. Your life is at stake.

No-one is suggesting motorway driving was ever without risk prior to the introduction of Smart motorways and even stopping in a country lane has its risks, especially at night.

All roads are conduits and motorways are like a full-flood tsunami.

The flow just keeps on coming relentlessly so it is no good pointing a finger at whichever minister introduced them.

Even if policy changes, it will be years before anything happens. Assume personal responsibility here.

You can mitigate the risks here by avoiding Smart routes - the nearest is at Bristol - and use the A303 to London, for example. Or just take the train.

If you run an elderly car which has not seen a proper service in some time, then frankly, it will not be up to the stresses of sustained motorway conditions.

You might make the shops and back from time to time and think your car is fine but a motorway will find any weakness in minutes.

Punctures are the most common cause of breakdown and you can still drive a mile slowly on a flat. Best bet is nice new tyres. Thin tread is prone to debris damage.

If you absolutely cannot make it to the refuge, put the hazards on, get out, grab your coat, glasses and phone and leap over the Armco barrier and stand well back up the bank.

Your life is at grave risk otherwise.

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