Soft truths of the hard shoulder

The RAC has announced that scrapping the hard shoulder on busy motorways will put more motorist’s lives at risk.

According to the RAC, more than half (55%) of drivers do not know where to go if they break down on stretches of the new ‘smart’ motorways and 52% did not know what an emergency refuge area was.

Lesley Slater, operations and business development director at LeasePlan UK said, ‘Changes to the motorway will bring new rules and regulations for motorists to learn and abide by. It is important for drivers to take responsibility for their own safety by staying up to date with any new laws introduced.

‘Confusion around what is and what is not legal on the motorway is compounded by the fact that drivers are not allowed to drive on the motorway until passing their practical driving test. This is right from a driver safety perspective but as it isn’t mandatory to have an additional motorway driving lesson, this can lead to gaps in knowledge, confidence and experience.’

It’s tried to bust five of the most common motorway myths.

Any vehicle can drive in the right-hand lane: if you are towing a trailer, or you’re driving a goods vehicle with a maximum laden weight over 7.5 tonnes, it is illegal for you to drive in the right hand lane on a motorway.
The left hand lane is the lorry lane: a recent study by the AA found that nine per cent of 18-24 year olds thought that the left hand lane was reserved for lorries. In fact, all drivers should keep left at all times, unless they are overtaking.
There is no national speed limit on the motorway: many people believe that you can legally travel at speeds of 80 or 90 miles per hour. The maximum speed limit is 70 miles per hour, and even less at 60 miles per hour for vehicles over 7.5tonnes or those towing a caravan or trailer.

If you break down by the side of the motorway and there’s an animal in the car, you can remove it:  if you should breakdown on the motorway passengers should get out of the vehicle and stay safe behind the barrier. However, any animal should be left in the vehicle; in case it should run out onto the road.
You can stop on the hard shoulder if you are ill or need the toilet: the hard shoulder is for emergencies only.