Safety on the Hard Shoulder

It is essential to realise that the hard shoulder of the motorway is (with a very few exceptions) only to be used in emergencies, when there is absolutely no other choice. You should always try to stop in a safer place, such as a service station or by exiting the motorway altogether, rather than stopping on the hard shoulder.

You may use the hard shoulder in an emergency, or when told to do so by the police, an emergency sign or by flashing red light. However, in no circumstance should you use the hard shoulder to:

  • Use your mobile phone
  • Check your maps
  • Stop to assist another driver
  • Go to the toilet
  • Have a nap

Each of these actions could result in the police issuing a penalty.

If an emergency does force you to stop on the hard shoulder, then you should follow these guidelines:

  • Indicate clearly that you are pulling onto the hard shoulder, and use the hard shoulder as a deceleration lane before coming to a halt.
  • Look out for debris that may damage your vehicle.
  • Park as close to the left as possible, and turn your steering wheel away from passing traffic so that your front wheels are pointing towards the nearside verge.
  • Turn on your hazard warning lights and sidelights to ensure that other drivers know you are there.
  • Exit the car using the left hand side passenger doors and move as far away from the traffic as you can, preferably behind a barrier or up on the embankment.
  • Never attempt to repair your car on the hard shoulder; you must use a motorway emergency telephone to contact professional help.

You can find more safety tips in Breakdowns on the Motorway.