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News | Don't use the hard shoulder as a naughty step!

Date Posted: 25th May 2018

It's a familiar scene for most parents driving on a motorway – children misbehaving. But the answer is not to do as one set of parents did and use the hard shoulder as a naughty step.

The shocking action on the side of the M4 near Bristol was revealed by Highways England today as the company released a list of excuses given to its traffic officers by drivers who had wrongly stopped on motorways.

Other excuses included a family cooking a meal and someone getting out of a taxi to spend a penny.

But CCTV footage released by Highways England reminds drivers why stopping on the hard shoulder also presents a risk. As many people set out on journeys this bank holiday and half term holidays the answer is to be prepared.

Simon Jones, Highways England, Regional Director South East said:

"We want everyone to get to their destinations safely. But some people put themselves at risk. The advice is simple: Be prepared. Check your vehicle before you set out to avoid unnecessary breakdowns; don't stop except in an emergency; and if you have to stop, make sure you know what to do.

"Drivers often think the hard shoulder is a safe place to stop but over 100 people are killed or injured on the hard shoulder every year. We don't want you to become one of those statistics; we want you to stay safe."

Drivers can get advice about how to check their vehicles before setting out:

If hot weather if forecast drivers are advised to carry plenty of water to drink.

Excuses given to Highways England traffic officers by drivers who have wrongly stopped include:

  • Naughty step – A traffic officer on routine patrol came across a child walking outside of a vehicle walking alongside the motorway on the M4 near Bristol. The car occupants had given the child ‘time out' for playing up.
  • Nice day for a walk – Traffic officers came across an abandoned LGV in a live lane on the M1 near to Northampton Motorway Services. The driver returned 15 minutes later. Apparently he would rather walk into the services rather than use the lorry park.
  • Hungry – Traffic officers from Dartford found a family congregated on the hard shoulder, cooking a meal as they were hungry.
  • Festive feast – a crew who had stopped to investigate a car stopped on the hard shoulder of the M6 between with no hazard lights on came across a driver eating a mince pie. She had passed the Stafford South Motorway Services a couple of miles back.
  • Sleeping dangerously – Traffic officers found the driver of an LGV fast asleep on a verge of the M60. His vehicle was blocking an emergency access route near Cheadle.
  • Lost – Traffic officers stopped to assist a driver on the hard shoulder of the M1 near Mansfield. She had stopped to look for directions to the crematorium and was ringing her husband for assistance.
  • Sat nav sagas – A patrol came across a stationary vehicle with no hazard lights on in foggy conditions on the M1 between Chesterfield and Mansfield. The driver walked back up the embankment and got back into the car, which had three passengers, as the traffic officer approached. He had stopped in an emergency area after losing mobile signal for his sat nav.
  • Nature calls – A minicab which appeared to be a broken down in a live lane on the M25 had in fact stopped for a passenger to relieve their bladder on the exit slip road going towards Staines-upon-Thames.
  • Potty break – Traffic officers came across a family who had stopped their vehicle on the hard shoulder of the M6 between Oddendale and Penrith so that a child could use a potty.
  • Text that can't wait – A patrol stopped with a vehicle on the hard shoulder of the M56 near to Chester Motorway Services. The driver was waiting to receive a text and then going to respond.

For advice on how to drive on motorways, including during an emergency, visit:

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