What is the Hard Shoulder?

The Hard Shoulder is a hardened strip that runs along the edge of motorways for drivers to use for stopping in the event of an emergency. As the most experienced Breakdown Cover service provider in the UK, we understand what a trying and alarming experience breaking down on the Motorway can be. We also know how dangerous the hard shoulder can be with hundreds of people losing their lives and suffering serious injuries on them each year.

Read our guide below and learn how to use the Hard Shoulder properly to keep you and your passengers safe.

What Driving on the Hard Shoulder Means

Stopping on the hard shoulder is only permitted when:

  • In a breakdown
  • In an emergency
  • If told to stop by the police

In the event of a breakdown you need to think about your safety, your passengers’ safety and the safety of the other road users.

  • If your vehicle experiences problems do not try and repair your car on the hard shoulder. If your vehicle develops a problem and you think you can fix it leave the motorway and find a safe place to stop away from passing traffic before attempting to fix your vehicle.
  • If you have to stop immediately, pull onto the hard shoulder and stop with the wheels turned to the left away from passing traffic.
  • Park as close to the left as possible, and try to stop near an emergency phone if you can.
  • Put on your hazard warning lights to ensure other drivers know you are there.
  • Waiting inside your vehicle is dangerous; instead you should exit from the left hand side. Exiting from the driver’s side is extremely dangerous as you will be in close proximity to passing cars.
  • You should ensure that your passengers also exist the car safely from the left and wait patiently for assistance on the verge away from the parked car.
  • If you are a disabled driver or have passengers who are unable to leave the car then it recommended you wait inside the car with the seatbelt on and doors locked.
  • If you have pets then they should be left inside the car to stop them from running out and causing a traffic hazard.
  • Contact your Breakdown Cover provider.
  • Once your Patrol has arrived do not stand between your own car and the emergency vehicle in case the rear vehicle is hit by passing traffic. Always stay on the verge far away from your vehicle while the problem is being dealt with.
  • If your car is fixed enter the vehicle on the left hand side. Use the hard shoulder to pick up speed before safely re-joining the motorway.
alt text1

Breakdown Cover from just £29.99

  • Our patrols fix 4 out of 5 vehicles at the roadside in just 30 minutes on average
  • As Britain’s most experienced provider we've been championing motorists for 119 years
  • 92% of our members would recommend RAC breakdown cover to their friends and family