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Staying Safe on the Hard Shoulder

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 29 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Breakdown Hard Shoulder Safety Road

At least 250 people in the UK are injured every year on the hard shoulder after a breakdown. Knowing the best course of action can prevent this. Here are some tips on how to stay safe on the hard shoulder;

Avoid Unnecessary Activities
Don't use the hard shoulder for making a phone call, reading a map, going to the toilet or any other activity which isn't unavoidable - wait until you can pull into a service station. The hard shoulder is for emergencies only or if the police require you to pull over.

Know The Dangers
Insure Your Motor suggests that as much as 12% of all fatal accidents on British motorways happen on the hard shoulder. The majority of these happen between 12am and 6pm. The biggest factor is loss of focus - drivers mistakenly think they're following vehicles on the hard shoulder, forgetting of course that they are actually not moving.

Keep to The Far Left
Pull over as far to the left-hand side as you can, and make sure your wheels are turned to the left too.

Exit by The Left-Hand Side
Leave the car from the left-hand passenger side to avoid stepping out next to the carriageway.

Watch Out For Debris
The hard shoulder is likely to be littered with debris from other people's breakdowns. This can cause a puncture.

Stay Aware
You will probably need to use the emergency telephone to call a breakdown service such as the AA or RAC. Keep an eye out for anyone looking suspicious whilst you're on the phone.

Use The Emergency Telephone
Using the emergency telephone on the hard shoulder is preferable to a mobile. Each one has a number which lets the police control centre operator know where you are so . Tell the operator the number of the phone so the breakdown service can reach you quicker.

Emergency telephones are indicated by blue and white arrow markers which point you in the direction of the nearest one (they are a mile apart from one another).

Be sure to face the carriageway when making the call so you can see any dangers in advance.

Don't Accept Lifts
While you're waiting for the breakdown service to arrive, you may be offered a lift by a stranger - don't accept.

Wait Away From The Car
Women often think they're safer staying in their cars than on the hard shoulder where they may be attacked. This is actually a misconception.

Avoid sitting in the car when you're waiting for the breakdown service - you're up to seven times more likely to be involved in an accident.

It's better to wait on the banking away from any other vehicles. Keep the front passenger door (furthest away from the carriageway for safety) open. If you're approached, you can get back in the car more easily. If this happens, lock the doors and speak to them with the window wound down slightly - but not enough for them to reach into the car.

Warning Triangles
Warning triangles should not be used on the motorways.

Rejoining The Motorway
When the breakdown is fixed, rejoin the carriageway as soon as you can. Use the hard shoulder to increase your speed until you can rejoin.

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