Motorway safety

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17 August 2009

Big rise in number of drivers getting behind crash barrier on hard shoulder

Increasing numbers of motorists are heeding safety advice about getting out of their vehicle on the hard shoulder in the event of breakdown or accident, according to AA patrols.

Three years ago, AA research showed that more than half of all motorists would risk death or serious injury by sticking with their vehicle on the hard shoulder but patrols now report that around 80 per cent get to a position of safety, although this can drop to as low as a third when it's wet.

Motorways and high speed dual carriageways are very dangerous places and it is imperative that drivers put safety first as around 170 deaths and serious injuries occur each year following collisions with vehicles parked on the hard shoulder (Department for Transport, 2005).

Stewart Topp, AA patrol of the year, says: "It is encouraging that more drivers are aware of the risks and get up the verge but we do still see cases, particularly when it's wet, when people stay in the car – they know they shouldn't but don't fully appreciate the danger they've put themselves in.

"The bottom line is that they're dicing with death on the hard shoulder – a bit of rain won't kill but being hit by a 40-tonne truck will. Get out of the car on the left-hand side, up the verge and ideally behind the barrier."

The AA attends around 3,400 breakdowns on the UK's motorways each week and callers on the AA's emergency breakdown line are provided with general safety advice when they first call and then the call handler runs through specific advice on the phone.

The hard shoulder should only be used in the event of a breakdown or emergency.

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25 August 2009