Biggest ever Highways England campaign urges drivers to ‘go left’ if they break down on motorway

Biggest ever Highways England campaign urges drivers to ‘go left’ if they break down on motorway
Highways England has launched a new campaign in a bid to make drivers more confident on what to do in the event of a breakdown on a motorway or major A-road, with or without a hard shoulder.

The campaign encourages them to ‘go left’ and move as far away from the running lane as possible in an emergency. It’s hoped it will play a vital role in addressing ongoing fears over the safety of smart motorways.

The latest advice from Highways England chimes with the guidance already given to RAC members to move left when possible and away from moving traffic. 

Highways England chief executive Nick Harris said: "This new campaign and its ‘Go left’ message is designed to deliver crucial information in an accessible way and to help make motorways safer for the people who use them."

The campaign follows the news that half of smart motorway safety cameras can’t yet catch drivers who ignore ‘red X’ closed-lane signs, and announcement of a new Transport Committee inquiry into the safety and value of smart motorways.

On smart motorway stretches, the hard shoulder is converted to a live running lane to improve traffic flow, but drivers can be left stranded if they break down or have an accident too far from a junction or an SOS area.

Here, their safety is dependent on both the ‘red X’ being activated to close the lane, and drivers obeying the warning signs by changing lanes.

Nick Harris continued: "This campaign is just one of the many steps we are taking to invest in our network with safety as our number one priority, doing everything we can to help drivers feel confident on our motorways."

RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said: "Suffering a breakdown on a motorway or a high-speed road can be one of the most terrifying things that drivers might encounter, so it’s important everyone has a clear understanding of what to do in that situation.

"We’re pleased to see Highways England addressing this issue in its new campaign which encourages drivers to ‘go left’.

"This is a simple and effective message that will hopefully improve safety on our motorways and major dual carriageways by reducing the number of vehicles that stop in live lanes."

Key advice from the new ‘go left’ campaign

If you break down on the motorway:

  1. Put your LEFT indicators on
  2. Move into the LEFT lane
  3. Exit LEFT at the next junction/services, or
  4. Exit LEFT into an emergency area or hard shoulder
  5. Put your hazard lights on
  6. Get behind a safety barrier where there is one; keep well away from moving traffic
  7. Call Highways England on 0300 123 5000; then a breakdown provider for help

If you cannot do the above, or in an emergency, stay in your vehicle, keep seatbelts and hazard lights on. Call 999 immediately.

How you can help prevent a breakdown on the motorway:

  • Make sure you have enough fuel for your trip
  • Check your oil
  • Check your tyre pressure.

Find out more about smart motorways here and what to do in a breakdown situation here. You can also learn how the RAC deals with smart motorway breakdowns.

Members and non-members can get motorway breakdown support from the RAC by calling 0333 2000 999.

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