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'Key roads must be improved' M25 jams harm economy

A new report says congestion on the M25 is so bad the region's economy is at risk and urgent action must be taken.

The report by Highways England found the stretch of motorway between the A3 in Surrey and the M40 in Buckinghamshire had the worst traffic in Europe with more than 220 thousands vehicles using it every single day.

In a highly controversial move it says key roads in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey and Hampshire should be improved to cope with the growing problem.

This report is from our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse.

Government responds to M25's 12 hour-long rush hour: 'We are investing £15bn on upgrading roads'

The rush hour can last a long time on the M25

A new report commissioned for the Government has found that the 'rush hour' for drivers using the M25 can actually last from 6am to 6pm.

The finding is a surprising one to many, but some transport campaigners say that people who use the M25 already know that there is a lot of traffic on the route.

The Department for Transport says that it is spending a lot of money on improving the south's major routes.

“We are investing £15 billion up to 2020 delivering upgrades to motorways and major A-roads.

“We continue to work on ways to cut congestion and improve journey times on the M25, connecting people with jobs, leisure and culture venues in the area – and providing an important boost to the UK economy.”

– Spokesperson for the Department for Transport

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Transport campaigners welcome M25 rush hour report

The M25 rush hour is the subject of a new study

Campaigners working for the improvement of our road networks in sustainable way have welcomed a new report about travelling on the M25, and other routes in the region.

“We welcome the recognition that we cannot simply build our way out of congestion. The M25 study is right to focus on improving capacity on the existing network through moving to more sustainable modes. That makes sense for the environment and the taxpayer too.

“Those measures should be implemented in full before any new roads are planned. New roads create more traffic, and it is wrong to sacrifice precious countryside for more tarmac when positive alternatives are available.”

– Bridget Fox, Sustainable Transport Campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport

Make sure you know how to tow. New video highlights what can go wrong our motorways

CCTV footage just released shows a caravan snaking out of control, narrowly missing other traffic on a motorway, before overturning and colliding with the safety barrier.

Last year, there were 764 incidents involving a caravan, trailer or other towed vehicle on the strategic road network in the South East with over two thirds of these incidents taking place between April and the end of September.

The Highways Agency say the causes of towing incidents include overloading the caravan or trailer, a mismatch with the towing vehicle, tyres which have burst because they have not been checked or replaced where needed and poor towing technique.

The Highways Agency advises anyone towing a caravan or trailer to:- Carry out a final maintenance check before setting off - Pay particular attention to the condition and pressure of the tyres on both vehicles- Check that loads are secure, that the weight is evenly distributed and is not excessive

  • Be aware of how towing affects the vehicle’s performance, particularly braking distances

  • Use extended mirrors when towing wider trailers

  • Check they have an appropriate driving licence for the vehicle and trailer combination

  • Know the correct speed limit for the vehicle and roads- Make sure they have proper breakdown cover in place

  1. Kate Bunkall

Motorway road hogs & tailgaters face £100 fine

People who hog the middle lane on motorways or tailgate other drivers could be fined £100 if they are spotted by police.

Until now this type of careless driving has gone unpunished because it is difficult to take the cases to court. The authorities hope that on the spot penalties will be enough to encourage motorists to drive more considerately. Kate Bunkall has been looking at the problem.

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Tailgaters and road hogs face crackdown

Bad drivers will face fines if the new proposals become law Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Police are also expected to get powers to issue instant fixed penalty notices for not giving way at a junction or using the wrong lane at a roundabout.

Details of crackdown on anti-social motoring are due to be released by the Government in a statement to Parliament this morning.

Until now such activity has generally gone unpunished because of the bureaucracy involved in prosecuting a case.

A motorist has to be stopped by a police officer, a summons issued and evidence presented in court.

Other changes being brought forward by the Government include increasing the fine for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving or not wearing a seat belt from £60 to £100.

The fixed penalty for driving without insurance is expected to double from £100 to £200.

The Basingstoke-based AA president Edmund King said: "An increase in the standard motoring fixed penalty fine will help deter those who commit motoring offences including mobile phone use.

Games Lane opening

The M4 motorway Credit: PA

The Games Lane on the eastbound M4 into London opens today to help people get to Olympic venues.

The lane is in the previous M4 bus lane which operated for 3.5 miles between junctions 3 and 2 on the Londonbound carriageway.

The M4 is part of the Olympic Route Network and provides an access route for members of the Games Family including athletes, their officials and equipment arriving at Heathrow for their journey to the Olympic Village in Stratford.

80% of Games Family arrivals are expected to pass through this way.

The lane will operate from Monday during the period when most of the Games Family will arrive. The M4 Games Lane will have variable signs which allow the lane to be activated when needed for periods between 5am and 10pm.Outside these operational periods the lane can be used by general traffic.

  1. Mike Pearse

80mph in the right lane

Motorways in the South are expected to be among the first to trial new 80 mph speed limits. The M20 in Kent from Junctions 4 to 7 and the M25 from Junction 10 to 16 are thought to be the first being considered.

It is because they have variable speed limits so speeds could be raised at quiet times and lowered at congested parts of the day.

It comes following pressure from drivers. The AA has welcomed the move, but safety group BRAKE say the Government is gambling with lives.