The Highways Agency has announced it is to crack down on motorists who use the hard shoulder for situations other than an emergency.
A scheme to monitor the use of hard shoulders on motorways has been launched as a joint initiative between the agency and the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG). It will see increased police patrols.
Motorists found to have stopped illegally will most likely receive a warning letter and educational leaflet. Dangerous use of the hard shoulder could result in fines and licence points however.
The scheme will initially cover motorways around Birmingham – the area has been highlighted as a particular hotspot for hard shoulder misuse.
In 2012 there were 8,655 cases of drivers stopping on hard shoulders in non-emergency situations. Reasons given to Highways Agency officers included stopping to take photographs and pick flowers from embankments.
One driver even stopped after he realised his car insurance was about to expire, so he could ring around for quotes before moving on.
Prof Stephen Glaister of the RAC Foundation said: “Around one in 10 motorway fatalities occurs on the hard shoulder and accidents here tend to be most severe because of the killer combination of stationary vehicles being hit by those travelling at very high speeds.”
Head of roads policy at the AA, Paul Watters, also highlighted the importance of the issue. He said: “Hard shoulders are dangerous places and are for real emergencies. The fact that some drivers actually choose to stop on them for trivial reasons or lack of forward planning is foolhardy and puts them and others at risk.”