Half of UK drivers avoiding hard shoulders on smart motorways

More than half of UK motorists have admitted to avoiding the hard shoulder of smart motorways when it is open to traffic, a new survey has revealed.

A study of more than 2,000 UK drivers revealed that 56 per cent admitted to avoiding the hard shoulder on smart motorways at some point, even if overhead gantries said that it was open for use.

Almost a third of those who said they avoid an open hard shoulder said they did so because they weren’t sure when to use it, while a quarter said that they were concerned that a stationary vehicle could be ahead.

Some 14 per cent also said that they wanted to drive in other lanes so that they had an ‘escape lane’ to drive into should they need to move across quickly.

Roger Griggs, communications director of Kwik Fit, the company behind the findings, said: “These findings reflect the concerns and uncertainty that many drivers have when driving on smart motorways.

“It’s clear that if many drivers are avoiding using the hard shoulder when it’s open, then the extra capacity which smart motorways are designed to provide is not being utilised properly and we will end up being in a worse position than with the original road layout.

“It is vital that there is a nationwide information campaign to ensure that drivers fully understand when they can and cannot use the hard shoulder if smart motorways are to be accepted by drivers and provide a way to ease congestion – something we need desperately.”

The survey also highlighted a general uncertainty of how to use smart motorways. One in five said they didn’t know when the hard shoulder was in use, while 13 per cent said, incorrectly, that you should never use the hard shoulder of a smart motorway.

In addition, just four in 10 knew it was only possible to drive on the hard shoulder of a motorway when signalled by overhead signs.

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