Over half of drivers wrong about using smart motorway hard shoulders

Over half of drivers wrong about using smart motorway hard shoulders
Over half of UK drivers wrongly avoid driving on the hard shoulder of smart motorways, surprising new research has revealed.

According to a survey, a massive 56% of motorists avoid using the lane – even when signs indicate they should do so in order to help reduce congestion.

‘All-lane running’ smart motorways, which see the hard shoulder opened up to improve traffic flow, are increasingly common but, as this research shows, many motorists still don’t understand the rules.

The poll, by KwikFit, found high levels of confusion among drivers, with less than a third able to correctly identify which smart motorway sign indicated an open hard shoulder.

A fifth (20%) of motorists said they have no idea when a hard shoulder is in use as a driving lane, while 13% wrongly claim you should never use a hard shoulder – even on a smart motorway.

Perhaps even more worrying is the 15% of drivers who believe a blank sign indicates an open hard shoulder – when it actually means it’s closed to traffic.

Roger Griggs, communications director at KwikFit, said the figures highlighted concerns motorists have about the rules on smart motorway driving.

“It’s clear that if many drivers are avoiding using the hard shoulder when it’s open, then the extra capacity which smart motorways are designed to provide is not being utilised properly,” he said.

“It is vital that there is a nationwide information campaign to ensure that drivers fully understand when they can and cannot use the hard shoulder, if smart motorways are to be accepted by drivers and provide a way to ease congestion.”

Four people have been killed on the M1 in just 10 months after being hit by vehicles while on the hard shoulder – prompting one of the victim’s widows to sue Highways England for corporate manslaughter.

Recent RAC research highlighted the issues surrounding all-running lanes, with more than a fifth of motorists admitting to having driven in a lane closed by a red X sign in the past year.

RAC spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Smart motorways are now very much part of the fabric of England’s motorway network and will become even more commonplace in years to come, with more being opened all the time.

“Red X signs, which denote when lanes are closed, are paramount in safety terms as any stricken driver who has not managed to reach an SOS area is at tremendous risk of being involved in a collision with vehicles that ignore them.”

Copyright Press Association 2019. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.

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