During the major festive seasons, traffic volumes on the highways increase tremendously as millions of vehicles travel around the country. On other days of the year, traffic flow is generally smooth (unless there’s an accident or roadworks) and motorists can travel safely and speedily between destinations.
This weekend, PLUS Malaysia anticipates another wave of high traffic volume on its highways from Saturday till Monday (April 29 to May 1) as it is the end of the school holidays and there is also a national holiday (Labour Day) on Monday.
In view of this greater volume of traffic, the SmartLane concept will be activated along certain sections of the North-South Expressway. When activated, vehicles are permitted to use the Emergency Lane for specified periods so that there is additional lane capacity to ease the congestion.
Signs identity SmartLane sections
Motorists can identify areas with SmartLanes from the special signages as well as the presence of traffic controllers stationed at the designated locations. Information on activation can also be found on the PLUS social media pages.
“Once the SmartLane is activated, highway users will be allowed to temporarily enter and utilise the emergency lane at selected areas and will be redirected back to the normal lanes to continue their journey. However, they must not use the road shoulder/emergency lane at other locations where no SmartLane is activated,” said PLUS Chief Operating Officer, Datuk Zakaria Ahmad Zabidi.
PLUS first tried out the SmartLane concept in October 2019 on a 6-km section of the New Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE) as a way to reduce the congestion between Setia Alam and Shah Alam during the morning rush hours.
“Based on PLUS’ record, 302,000 vehicles ply the NKVE daily, where 22% of them enter the highway simultaneously during the morning rush hour. However, with the implementation of the SmartLane, we expect to reduce the Setia Alam-Shah Alam peak hour crawl by 30% to 40%, barring any incidents such as accidents and vehicle breakdowns. Nevertheless, we have tow trucks on standby to address these incident,” Datuk Zakaria said at the time the SmartLane was introduced.
Activated in 5 sections
Throughout the Hari Raya festive period this year, the SmartLane has been regularly activated at two stretches, namely the Port Dickson Interchange to Seremban Interchange between KM260.0 and KM263.1 (Northbound), and the Senai Utara Interchange to Kulai Interchange between KM19.0 and KM27.0 (Northbound).
Apart from these two locations, PLUS has identified other locations for SmartLane activation at the Gua Tempurung – Gopeng stretch between KM306.7 and KM297.0 (Northbound), Slim River – Sungkai between KM367.3 and KM354.1 (Northbound) and Rawang – Sungai Buaya between KM439.9 and KM435.5 (Northbound).
The implementation of the SmartLane at the two stretches in the southern region has received positive feedback from highway users as it has helped in reducing congestion. SmartLane activation can only be implemented upon approval by the police, based on the traffic conditions.
If in doubt, do not travel on the emergency lane as it is an offence. And on certain days during the festive period, the summons cannot be settled with a compound fine and you have to go to court. While you are unlikely to end up in prison, the process of attending court can be troublesome, especially if the court is in a different state from where you stay.