Motorway hard shoulder safety
More than 200 people are injured every year in the UK from accidents that occur on the hard shoulder of the motorway. The hard shoulder can be a dangerous place, and knowing how to use it safely if you break down or have to use it in an emergency is essential for any motorist.
I'll just make a quick phone call...!
The hard shoulder is NOT the place for making phone calls, going to toilet or having a snack! You must only use it if you have some kind of emergency, you break down or you are pulled over by the police. If you need to stop for any other reason then you should drive on to the nearest services.
If you are in a traffic jam and you are close to your exit on the motorway, do not be tempted pull on to the hard shoulder and use it as a short cut. The only vehicles allowed to drive on the hard shoulder are the emergency services and motorway maintenance vehicles. If there is a traffic queue because of an accident and your vehicle is on the hard shoulder, you could hinder an ambulance from getting to the scene.
If you break down or have an emergency
When you pull on to the hard shoulder, try keep your car as far to the left as possible and put your hazard lights on. Watch out for debris lying around that could puncture your tyres.
Leave your vehicle from the left hand side if you can. Remember that you are very close to fast moving traffic, if you have to get out on the right hand side be extremely careful. Once you are out of the vehicle get some distance the other side of the crash barrier and either walk to the nearest emergency phone or use your mobile to call for assistance.
Using a roadside emergency phone is actually preferable to using a mobile because the traffic control centre will know exactly where you are, and it will make it easier for them to direct the recovery or roadside assistance vehicles to the right place.
If you are a woman and feel vulnerable or threatened in any way, you should stay in your car, lock the doors and call the police on your mobile phone. Try to describe your location to them as best you can, and they will send a police patrol vehicle. If the threat goes away, you should leave the vehicle and get behind the crash barrier.
Never accept lifts from strangers, no matter how genuine they may appear to be.
Don't be tempted to start doing any repairs to your vehicle on the hard shoulder, it is too dangerous. Stay behind the barrier and call for assistance.
If you are able to rejoin the motorway, you can build up your speed on the hard shoulder before indicating and safely merging with the traffic.
For information on where to find an Accident Repair Centre or bodyshop, just give us a call on 0845 6768898 or start your free claim enquiry using our online claim form.