No stress in the fast lane

Louise Jury joins rush-hour drivers on the M25 to test the new scheme
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The Independent Online
Like the most sedate of sedate Sunday drivers, they came, they saw the bright red traffic signals and obeyed.

The fuming, late-braking chaos of the M25 was transformed into an order bordering on military.

The publicity must have helped and the big warning signs of cameras waiting to snap the law-breakers drove home the point.

It seemed slightly surreal to be driving at a steady 50mph on a motorway. Though most resisted the urge to hit the accelerator, a few BMW and Mercedes drivers looked to be straining at the leash.

Even the plea to avoid hopping lanes seemed to have worked, tempting as it was to disrupt the queues and try that extra 2mph more than the driver in front.

Certainly, if you could accept the hypothesis that going more slowly would get you there quicker, the whole experience was quite soothing.

There was no looking out for the overpowered prat with Grand Prix delusions or the ageing granny unaccustomed to high-speed traffic. It was a speed even the worst driver could handle.

Whether the calm lasts is another matter. The vivid red circles with their miles per hour orders were mesmerising for a day - the bright lights are something you would expect in America, not Britain - yet the thrill of the bright lights may pall and the fear of the camera may recede.

I have no point of comparison, being one of the many who has always known, from others' experience, that the M25 at rush-hour was the nightmare of all nightmares. But cruising the fast lane at 5.25pm last night, with no stress to speak of, I thought I might be willing to give it a second chance.