STOPPING ON A ‘STANDARD’ MOTORWAY WITH A HARD SHOULDER
Here’s what to do in an emergency on a ‘standard’ motorway that includes a hard shoulder.
Find out how to get to safety on a ‘normal’ motorway with a hard shoulder
1) Stay calm and head for the hard shoulder or leave at the next junction
If your car is still able to drive: If the ‘problem’ doesn’t require an instant stop – such as an engine warning light – you should move to the inside lane, reduce your speed (but not enough to cause a hazard to other faster moving vehicles) and head to the nearest junction or service station. Remember, HGVs are likely to be travelling at 56mph in the inside lane.
If you need to stop right away: Keeping calm and being prepared for what to do in the event an incident is essential. The first few seconds of the developing situation are likely to make getting to safety much easier. Firstly, don’t simply slam on the brakes if your car is still moving and in control. For instance, if the power fails, use your momentum to make your way safely across the lanes and park on the hard shoulder with your hazard lights on. If it’s dark, ensure your sidelights are left illuminated.
2) Be prepared for changes to your car’s handling
If the engine has died, it’s likely that ancillary systems such as brakes and steering will become difficult or ‘different’ to use. With no power steering, you’ll need to work harder to turn the wheel. Likewise, the car’s brakes will need more pressure to be applied.
3) Park with your wheels turned to the left
When you make it to the hard shoulder, park your vehicle as far to the left as possible. Additionally, leave your wheels turned to the left. In the unlikely event your vehicle is hit by another, it will be propelled away from passing traffic rather than into the live carriageways.
4) Get all occupants out of the car
Once safely stopped on the hard shoulder, all occupants should leave the car through the left-hand side doors and move to a safe place away from the car and carriageway.
If possible, wait on the other side of a barrier and in a position behind car – just in case it’s struck and propelled off the motorway.
Drivers with mobility problems, which prevent them from leaving a vehicle should remain inside with their seat belt fastened.
They should also display a ‘Help’ pennant to alert passing vehicles or emergency services.
5) What about pets? Should they be taken out of the car?
Pets should be left in the car unless you are absolutely certain they can be controlled. Remember, motorways are loud, inhospitable places when viewed from the hard shoulder – making them extremely stressful for pets. A loose animal poses a big risk to itself and motorists on the live carriageways. If you do leave a pet in the stricken vehicle, make sure windows are left slightly open in hot weather and that water is available.
6) Be seen but don’t put yourself at risk
If you have a hi-vis jacket then put it on, but don’t wander back down the hard shoulder with a warning triangle – this will simply put you at risk.
7) Don’t try to fix the problem yourself
Standing with your head beneath the bonnet or inspecting the underside of your car while it’s marooned on the hard shoulder is extremely dangerous. Call the emergency services and let them recover you to a safe place before attempting to inspect or repair your vehicle.
8) Call for help on the ‘Emergency Telephone’ if your mobile is not in use
If you can’t call a breakdown service using your mobile, head to the nearest orange Emergency Telephone – the Highway Code prioritises the use of these over your own phone. These phones are located a mile apart and bollards at the side of the hard shoulder have arrows pointing to the nearest. They will also tell you how far the Emergency Telephone is. Using the phone will not cost anything and will help an operator alert the relevant emergency or recovery service. The location of the phone will also be available to help locate your vehicle. After making the call, you should return to your vehicle using a route behind the safety barrier if possible.