More than 2,000 drivers stopped on a motorway hard shoulder last summer - even though they were not involved in an emergency.
The alarming figures, released by the Highways Agency, reveal that a total of 2,062 motorists were spotted on a hard shoulder between July and September 2013.
Traffic officers have revealed the bizarre range of reasons given for the illegal, non-emergency stops - from people trying to pick pretty flowers to renewing their car insurance .
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: "The hard shoulder is an important motorway feature that should not be used wrongly. Realising that the way we use motorways is changing with the hard shoulder being used for traffic at busy times or, in places, permanently, it is vital motorists do not stop unless they are experiencing an emergency.
"Eighty-four per cent of drivers surveyed by the RAC felt that the hard shoulder was important in breakdown and accident situations so it is worrying that we hear of so many bizarre incidents of hard shoulder misuse."
One couple driving an open-top sports car, told officers they had stopped to take pictures of their grandchild because it was "such a lovely day".
Another driver said he pulled over because the word "Fire" appeared on his dashboard display - but it later turned out to be the title of the song he was listening to.
Officers also reported a driver who was halfway through selling his car when spotted; another who had fallen asleep on the M6 slip lane; a group of bikers who had stopped to have a drink, and a mobile phone operator who was carrying out signal tests.
Jamie Hassall, Highways Agency national enforcement co-ordinator, appealed to road users not to put themselves and others at such unnecessary risk on motorways.
He added that when the hard shoulder is opened to traffic at peak times, drivers can only use it if there is a speed limit signalled above it.
Mr Hassall also reminds road users that when a red X is displayed over a lane, they are not allowed to drive on it.
Copyright Press Association 2014
https://href.li/?http://www.rac.co.uk/car-insurance/ (car insurance)