Orange emergency zones to be installed on Northamptonshire stretch of the M1

Orange emergency zones are set to be installed along the M1 in Northamptonshire.
Orange emergency zones are set to be installed along the M1 in Northamptonshire.

New "highly visible" orange emergency zones are set to be rolled out on the Northamptonshire stretch of the M1 this month in a bid to make stopping safer.

When the smart motorway scheme is finished between junction 19 (Catthorpe) and 16a Northamptonshire, the hard shoulder will be replaced by running traffic lanes during peak times.

However many organisations, including breakdown company the AA, have concerns about the safety of the scheme.

As a result, Highways England is now set to paint 14 bright orange boxes along the hard shoulder of the motorway's Northamptonshire stretch during August.

The new areas are already being trialled on the M3 near Cambeley and are aimed at making emergency stopping points on smart motorways more obvious.

Highways England's chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: “We recognise the public concern about smart motorways and we also believe that changes such as these will help drivers have confidence when using them and be clear about where they can stop in an emergency.

“That is why we are trialling these highly visible new style emergency areas. The bright orange colouring will make them as easy as possible to spot and should also discourage drivers from using them in non-emergency situations.

“This is just one of the ways we are helping drivers to understand smart motorways and their benefits. I hope it helps drivers feel more confident about using a smart motorway.”

Smart motorways use variable speed limits to manage traffic and to convert the hard shoulder into an extra traffic lane.

Highways England says they are a successful way of improving journey times.