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Hard shoulder driving cuts crashes

Allowing hard-shoulder running (HSR), where drivers can use the hard shoulder of motorways during peak times, has cut accident rates and reduced journey times, Government figures show.

The statistics were produced as Roads Minister Mike Penning officially opened the latest HSR scheme - on a 6.7-mile stretch of the M6 in the West Midlands.

HSR on this stretch is also being combined with a UK first which will see slip roads at the M6's junction 10 near Birmingham being converted into full-time running lanes in both directions to ease congestion.

Mr Penning said that accidents had more than halved since HSR was introduced on 10.5 miles of the M42 (from junction 3A to junction 7), to the east of Birmingham in 2006.

Journey times have also improved between the M40 junction 16, near Lapworth and M6 junction 5, near Birmingham, since the introduction of two sections of HSR.

The M42 latest statistics follow earlier figures which showed that over a 12-month period journey time reliability improved by 22% on the route and emissions were reduced by up to 10% due to traffic flowing more smoothly.

Mr Penning said: "The Government is committed to delivering transport projects which improve journeys and help economic growth so I am pleased to open England's newest HSR scheme.

"This will provide much needed additional capacity - easing congestion and making journey times more reliable for road users, including hauliers and commuters - on this vital national transport spine."

He went on: "I am also pleased to announce that research being published today confirms this system for increasing capacity significantly reduces accidents and reduces journey times.

"These benefits show why the Government has committed to start work on 11 other managed motorways schemes by 2015."

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