THOUSANDS of UK drivers crash into cars stopped on the hard shoulder every year.
Safety experts are now calling on Brits to take greater care when parking in the refuge areas on the motorway.
A recent study by Green Flag revealed there was 750,000 crashes on UK roads between 2015 and 2017, the equivalent of 684 a day.
The data also found there was 9,000 accidents involving stationary cars, with 42 per cent of these on the hard shoulder.
The shocking figures equate to 24 drivers a week being hit while resting in the refuge areas.
And just under 20 per cent of these accidents, around 720 crashes, resulted in serious injury or death.
The do's and don'ts for using the hard shoulder
- Pull over safely on the hard shoulder in an emergency, such as a breakdown or medical episode
- Turn on hazard warning lights and side lights to alert other drivers
- Use left-hand doors if you need to exit the vehicle
- Keep your children and pets inside the car
- Proceed with extreme caution if you need to use the emergency phone on the hard shoulder
- Don’t use the hard shoulder to get ahead of traffic and skip queues
- Don’t stop on the hard shoulder to go to the toilet or use your mobile
- Don’t pull over if passengers have travel sickness or you need to rest
The study comes as more than 100 miles of road are being converted into smart motorways, where hard shoulders are used as live lanes.
Hard shoulders are used as a refuge for broken-down vehicles so they don’t interfere with the flow of traffic, as well as a lane for emergency vehicles to reach serious accidents.
Using the hard shoulder for any other reason is illegal and can see you hit with a £100 fine and three points on your licence.
And if you cause an accident, you could be charged with careless driving which carries a £5,000 fine, up to nine penalty points and even a lengthy driving ban.
If you do breakdown and need to use the emergency phone on the hard shoulder, proceed with extreme caution and always walk towards oncoming traffic.
But be careful though as it is extremely dangerous and should only be done in critical emergencies.
And if you’re travelling with your children or pets, keep them safely secured in the car at all times.
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Damon Jowett, head of service delivery at Green Flag, said: “It’s important for people to be aware of the danger of driving on motorways, which are a hotspot for traffic incidents and resulting fatalities.
“Many accidents can be prevented. If there is a vehicle stopped on the hard shoulder, drivers need to slow down and move their vehicle over to the next lane if safe to do so.
“This simple manoeuvre not only helps protect the drivers and passengers in the stationary vehicle, but it also safeguards our roadside workers as they assist them.”