Drivers must shoulder responsibility for Motorway misuse
With millions of drivers expected to hit the road over the Easter weekend, AA research shows that around a quarter of them have potentially endangered their lives unnecessarily 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.
An AA-Populus poll of 18,806 AA members** established why people make non-emergency stops on the motorway.
Illness or toilet breaks (both 5%) 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, 56 per cent (59% men; 48% women) of respondents have stopped on the motorway hard shoulder at some point, particularly those in North-west England (64%) ahead of South-east England (60%).
Just over a third (34%) had to pull over due to a mechanical breakdown and a further fifth (21%) due to a puncture or tyre damage.
What to do if you break down
You should only stop if it is a genuine emergency and have no choice – it really is the last resort.
Mark Spowage, AA patrol of the year
Mark Spowage, AA patrol of the year, says: “The hard shoulder is a highly dangerous place with vehicles thundering past just feet away but some people don’t fully appreciate the risks involved in stopping on it.
“Most weeks we have incidents where a member’s car is struck while on the hard shoulder and it seems to be an increasing issue, which is a serious concern. Thankfully most people heed the safety advice and get out of the car and behind the barrier before calling for assistance.
“You should only stop if it is a genuine emergency and have no choice – it really is the last resort.
"It’s best to try to drive to a safer place off the motorway rather than stopping on the hard shoulder, even in the event of a breakdown. For example, if your car has an amber warning light, it’s fine to continue to the next exit; and, likewise, say you get a puncture or an alert from your car’s tyre pressure monitoring system, it’s better to risk having to shell out for a new tyre than be a sitting duck on the hard shoulder."
If you are forced to stop, safety is paramount, so exit the vehicle on the left, get far away from your vehicle and behind the barrier and then call for assistance
Mark Spowage, AA patrol of the year
If you stop for any other reason, you could be fined up to £100 and receive three penalty points, as well as potentially putting your life at risk. No phone call or loo stop is worth it.”
Mark Spowage continues: “If you are forced 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. If you’re unsure where you are, look for the blue location signs or the AA app can use your smartphone’s GPS to pinpoint your location, which can be sent to the AA’s operational centre.”
In addition to being able to report and track a breakdown, the free AA app includes the AA route planner and traffic data, as well as vehicle reminders for MOT, tax, insurance and service dates. Enhanced features include a fuel price checker, parking-space finder and dashboard warning light information.
To mark the development of the app, members who download and sign in or update their existing version of The AA app before 30 April 2015 will be in with a chance of winning a new Volkswagen Golf GTI***.
The AA app is available for iPhone on the ‘App Store’ and for Android smartphones on ‘Google play’.
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 £100 fine and three penalty points.
Reasons for stopping on a motorway hard shoulder:
(26 March 2015)
* Source: Department for Transport STATS19. Average total for motorways and other roads.
** 18,806 adults, aged 18+, responded to the AA-Populus online panel between 19-27 January 2015. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.