An estimated 1 in 6 fatalities occur every year on UK motorways from accidents involving vehicles on the hard shoulder. Drivers have been known to use the hard shoulder for overtaking, stopping to use their mobile phones or even having a quick snack.
None of these activities are permissible on a hard shoulder. It's function is as a place of refuge for vehicles in an emergency, or as a pathway for maintenance vehicles, the police or emergency services.
The hard shoulder can still be a dangerous place to stop even in an emergency. Your vehicle is still close to fast-moving traffic, so it should only be used if you have no other choice and you cannot leave the motorway completely via a junction or exit to motorway services.
If you have to use the hard shoulder in an emergency there are some simple guidelines to follow in order to stay safe.
If you think you have a problem with your vehicle or you have had an accident but you are still mobile, use your indicator to show your intention to leave the main highway. Decelerate and manoeuvre as slowly and safely as possible
Once you are on the hard shoulder and still decelerating, switch your hazard lights on to show others that you have a problem
After you have stopped, the occupants should all leave the vehicle from the passenger side if possible, if you do have to exit the driver's side, take extreme care
Make sure everyone gets behind the crash barrier, and DO NOT attempt to repair the vehicle yourself
Whilst staying outside the crash barrier, walk to the nearest emergency telephone to call for assistance, they are spaced at one mile intervals on most motorways and there are also signs indicating which phone is closest to your position. The position of these phones is known to the breakdown services and so it will make it easier for them to locate you
If you choose to call on your mobile phone, make sure you give them clear instructions as to your location
If you feel vulnerable waiting outside, sit in the passenger side of the vehicle, lock all the doors and wait for the recovery services
If you have been involved in an accident on the motorway that was not your fault, please give us a call on 02392 484 244 or use the free enquiry button below, and one of our experienced claims advisors will be happy to help you.