AA/Populus Panel

50% say a hardshoulder to cry on is unnecessary

28 August 2008

traffic on a motorway

Fifty per cent of AA members support the controlled use of the hard-shoulder as a running lane with just 29% opposed. However the AA warns that 58% are opposed to the Government's idea of charging for solo drivers on these lanes.

The idea piloted on the M42, has received a thumbs up judging by the results from the latest release of data from an AA Populus panel poll of over 12,000 members1.

The Government's plans announced in July 'Roads – Delivering Choice and Reliability', proposed making much more use of 'hard shoulder running' schemes on English motorways. These schemes control traffic on the motorway using frequent gantries which regulate speed and lane use and at busy times the hard shoulder converts into a traffic lane.

While 50% of those responding to the survey support 'hard shoulder running' just under 30% opposed the plans (29%), with half of those (15%) strongly opposed.

AA comment

AA President, Edmund King said: "It is quite controversial to improve motorway capacity by removing the hard shoulder which is widely regarded as a major safety feature that contributes to Britain's good safety record on motorways."

However, the active traffic management pilot on the M42 east of Birmingham has shown that schemes like this can dramatically improve traffic flow, journey time reliability and retain safety levels.

King added:"The M42 scheme has received strong local support with 65% of the AA Populus panel members in the West Midlands supporting the scheme and only 22% opposed. It is crucial that if these schemes are rolled out more widely they retain all the safety features employed on M42."

Most opposition to using the hard shoulder as a traffic lane was from those aged over 65 (38% oppose of those 21% were strongly opposed) and most support was from the 18-24 year age group (56%).

Pay lanes

The Government's plans announced in July also included proposals to consider the introduction of pay lanes on motorways – these lanes would either be additional ones to ease congestion or high occupancy vehicle lanes that drivers could be charged to use if they are on their own.

AA Populus panel members2 gave these measures a thumbs down with 53% opposing new pay lanes (a third were strongly opposed) and 58% opposed paying a toll to use a car share lane when alone (38% were strongly opposed).

In summary King added: "The government will need to tread carefully on its future motorway policy as our research shows that people want improvements but not at additional cost – only a few weeks ago drivers were paying the highest price ever for petrol and diesel and fuel duty and road tax increases are still in the government's mind."

Regional variations

  • W Midlands – 64% support, 22% oppose, 12% neutral.
  • E Midlands – 58% support, 24% oppose, 16% neutral.
  • North West – 51% support, 30% oppose, 17% neutral.
  • London – 50% support, 32% oppose, 15% neutral.
  • South – 50% support, 31% oppose, 16% neutral.
  • Yorks & Humberside – 50% support, 29% oppose, 18% neutral.
  • Wales – 49% support, 29% oppose, 20% neutral.
  • North East – 49% support, 27% oppose, 20% neutral.
  • East Anglia – 48% support, 32% oppose, 17% neutral.
  • South West – 48% support, 32% oppose, 17% neutral.
  • Northern Ireland – 46% support, 24% oppose, 22% neutral.
  • Scotland – 36% support, 29% oppose, 25% neutral.


112,146 responses to survey conducted between 8 and 14 August 2008

217,481 responses to survey conducted between 14 March and 9 April 2008

AA Public Affairs


28 August 2008