Drivers given tickets on 'smart' motorways could soon be offered retraining

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Motorists caught offending on 'smart' motorways could be offered retraining instead of a ticket under new police guidelines.

The news comes after a Freedom of Information request revealed that the number of people caught using the hard shoulder illegally had risen by 18 per cent over the last financial year.

So-called 'smart motorways' – which account for about 200 miles of the UK's motorway network – use overhead signs to dictate variable speed limits and can open the hard shoulder to ease congestion.

However, figures obtained by BBC Radio 5 Live show that 1,014 tickets for incorrectly using the hard shoulder were issued by the 38 forces that responded to its request, compared with 859 over the previous year.

This has led the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) to say it wants to change the law surrounding motorway offences and create more awareness about the rules in order to improve compliance.

Suzanne Davenport from the council said: "We don't have national driver offender retraining courses for the motorways, so if you get caught on the motorway you are going to get a ticket.

"We have about one million people a year on other road networks who are being caught driving and are going on national offender retraining. So we've been talking to Highways England about developing a course."

Davenport said that the courses the NPCC was looking into running were based on 'academic rigour' to ensure they would have a positive effect on people's behaviour in the long-term.