Easily preventable road traffic accidents can happen if drivers stop on motorway hard shoulders in non-emergency situations, road experts have warned.
This follows the release of new Highways Agency (HA) figures that show there were 8,655 hard shoulder misuse cases last year.
A list of excuses recorded by the agency include:
- stopping to pick flowers
- taking photographs
- parents feeding children
- people taking comfort breaks
- ringing around for new car insurance quote after realising their policy was expiring
The findings were published as the agency and the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) in the Midlands unveiled on Tuesday August 6 a campaign to deter drivers from abusing the hard shoulder on sections of the M6 and M42.
The HA’s national enforcement co-ordinator Jamie Hassall warned: “Driving on the hard shoulder when it is not available for use could lead to collisions with vehicles who have stopped in an emergency or with the breakdown and emergency services who have stopped there to offer assistance.”
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M-way safety scheme starts next month
The pilot project aimed at preventing road traffic accidents by ending hard shoulder misuse begins next month, with police observing drivers on sections of motorway around Birmingham.
Any drivers misusing the hard shoulder will get a joint letter from the police and the HA, along with an educational leaflet.
Motorists could also find themselves facing a fine and points on their licence.
Mr Hassall said he hopes that all road users will heed the message.
He added: “Whether drivers are doing this because they are unaware or deliberately trying to exit the motorway more quickly, they are putting themselves and others at risk of a car accident.”