Highways England is urging drivers to think about how they use the hard shoulder.

Highways England has urged drivers to think about how they use hard shoulders after it announced that more than 100 people are killed or injured at the side of the motorway every year.

Simon Jones, Highways England’s regional director for the South East admitted the statistic as he urged motorists to consider the safety implications of stopping on the hard shoulder.

‘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,’ he said.

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The hard shoulder is designed to be a relatively safe location for vehicles to pull over in the event of a breakdown, as well as an alternative lane for emergency services to reach the scene of an accident.

Use of the shoulder is permitted for breakdowns and other emergencies, such as a driver becoming incapacitated, but any other uses are illegal unless a driver is instructed to do so by the police or a smart motorway sign indicates that the hard shoulder is being used as a driving lane.

According to the AA, inappropriate use of the hard shoulder can result in a £100 fine and three penalty points on your licence.

Even so, Highways England says it has caught drivers giving its officers dubious excuses for using the shoulder. One parent said they were using the area on the M4 as a ‘naughty step’ for a misbehaving child, while another driver was found to be cooking a meal by the side of the road.

As a result, the organisation has said drivers should always ‘try to exit the motorway immediately if your vehicle is damaged or experiences difficulties’. However, Highways England concedes that this won’t always be possible, and that drivers should then use the hard shoulder.

‘We want everyone to get to their destinations safely, but some people put themselves at risk,’ said Jones. ‘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.’