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'Ramp metering'will limit motorway access

SAFER MOTORWAYS were promised last week under a new high-tech scheme to limit access to motorways at peak periods.

The £4M pilot study launched by the Highways Agency will control access to the M3 and M27 using traffic traffic lights on slip roads.

The new 'ramp metering' should reduce accidents and 'stop-start' traffic flows at motorway junctions. The lights are installed on motorway entry slip roads, known in the USA as 'ramps', which control vehicle flow on to the main carriageway at a 'metered' rate.

Traffic lights are linked to sensors in the road which measure the volume of traffic travelling along the motorway and identify when it is safe for motorists to join the flow. A few vehicles will be allowed to go on each green light and drivers will face the normal police penalties for failing to obey the signals.

Six key junctions along the M3 and M27 around Southampton have been chosen to pilot the system, which is used at over 3,000 locations in the USA, as well as France and Holland.

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