The road safety experts also offer advice for driving on motorways.
The road safety and breakdown specialists are also calling for a halt in the rollout of 'Smart Motorways', saying that a proper safety review needs to take place and sufficient refuge areas need to be provided.
"Motorways may be the fastest roads we use, but they are statistically also the safest; and there are fewer collisions on motorways than on other roads," said GEM road safety officer Neil Worth. "However, the high speeds used on motorways mean that when there is a crash, it is likely to be more serious. That’s why on average around one in 50 motorway collisions is fatal, compared with one in 70 on all other roads."
“We are also asking ministers and highways authorities specifically to call a halt to their rollout of smart motorways across the country until a proper review of safety has been completed and adequate refuge areas provided for drivers," he added. "In order to maximise safety, we also urge drivers to ensure they know the rules and signs relating to smart motorways, which are becoming more commonplace."
GEM also called out the Highway Code, saying that despite the rapid influx of Smart Motorways, where the hard shoulder is replaced by designated refuge areas at regular intervals, it has yet to include advice on how to handle them.
"Understanding how a smart motorway works, and knowing what to do if you are unfortunate enough to experience a breakdown in a stretch of smart motorway, could well prove a lifesaver," said Worth.
GEM has also provided a list of tips to keep you safe on motorways:
- Plan your journey so you know when to join and leave the motorway. You’re far less likely to be taken by surprise when it comes to choosing the correct lane at junctions and intersections.
- Choose a safe speed and use the left hand lane of the motorway unless you are overtaking.
- Check your following distance by the 'two second rule'. Watch the vehicle in front go past a signpost, under a bridge or past some other reference point. Then speak out: "Only a fool breaks the two second rule." If you pass the same point before you have finished the sentence, then you are too close.
- Double your following distance in wet weather.
- Scan the road a long way ahead so that you have early sight of developing hazards.
- Make regular mirror checks. If you observe a fast-approaching vehicle, then take steps to move out of its way. Before changing lanes, check your mirrors and blind spots, and indicate your intention to move either left or right. Only commence the manoeuvre when you know you can complete it safely.
- Avoid any sort of distraction. No mobile device, no interfering with stereo or satnav, no eating or drinking. Give 100 percent of your attention to driving.
- If you are about to miss your motorway exit, don’t make last-minute risky manoeuvres to leave the motorway. Continue to the next junction and turn around, or follow the revised satnav instructions.
- Familiarise yourself with the rules and signs that apply to smart motorways, so that you stay safe and avoid a ticket for speeding or using a closed lane.
- Knowing what to do if you break down in a stretch of smart motorway is a big help for road safety. Then you will know what to do if you experience a breakdown yourself, and will also understand what’s happening if another vehicle breaks down. GEM’s recently revised 'Motorist’s Breakdown and Emergency Guide' leaflet now includes details of what to do on a smart motorway in an emergency.