Fleet News

Quarter of drivers misuse hard shoulder

Research by the breakdown industry group Survive shows that more than one in four drivers have potentially endangered their lives by stopping on the hard shoulder in a non-emergency.

Since 2000, 836 people on average in the UK have been killed or injured each year in incidents on hard shoulders and lay-bys.

Survive polled 20,073 people to establish why people make non-emergency stops on the motorway. Illness or toilet breaks (both 6%) were the most common excuses, followed by running out of fuel (4%), reading a map (2%) and making a non-emergency phone call (1%).

Overall, 58% (63% men; 49% women) of respondents have stopped on the hard shoulder at some point. The research also reveals that 7% of drivers admit to driving on a motorway in a car that they knew was unreliable or which had a fault that was likely to cause it to stop. The drivers most likely to have taken this gamble are young drivers (14% of 18-24yrs) and those in London and Northern Ireland (both 9%).

Allan Mowatt, chairman of Survive, said: "The hard shoulder can be a highly dangerous place with vehicles thundering past just feet away but some people don't fully appreciate the risks involved in stopping on the hard shoulder.

"The point is that, by law, the hard shoulder is for genuine emergencies only. If you stop for any other reason, you could be fined up to £60 and receive three penalty points, as well as potentially putting your life at risk. No phone call or loo stop is worth it.

"If a genuine emergency forces you to stop, safety is paramount, so exit the vehicle on the left, get far away from your vehicle and behind the barrier (if one is present) and then call for assistance - it's just not safe to remain in the vehicle. Never attempt even the simplest of repairs to the vehicle or to place a warning triangle on the hard shoulder."

The Highway Code (rule 270) states that you must not stop on the carriageway, hard shoulder, slip road, central reservation or verge except in an emergency, or when told to do by the police, Highways Agency traffic officers in uniform, an emergency sign or by flashing red light signals.

Inappropriate use of the hard shoulder is an offence under motorway traffic regulations and incurs up to a £60 fine and three penalty points.

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