Following our recent news items on the dangers presented to drivers of older cars by the new generation of ‘smart’ motorways, alarming research has been published suggesting that despite the big investment in allowing hard shoulder running, an alarming number of drivers have little clue how they should be properly used leading to more motorway confusion.

Published by Kwik Fit, the figures reveal that more than half (56%) of drivers say they avoid the hard shoulder of a smart motorway even when it’s signed for use – and a quarter of these do so because of a fear that there may be a stranded vehicle ahead. Almost as many ignore the hard shoulder simply because they feel the whole concept of hard shoulder running is unsafe.

The research has also revealed a lack of knowledge over the signage of the hard shoulder on smart motorways, with 20% saying they didn’t know when they could drive on the hard shoulder and 13% reckoning you could never use the hard shoulder of a smart motorway. While 42% of respondents were aware that the use of the hard shoulder is governed by overhead signs, only 29% knew a speed limit sign over the lane meant it was open for use, while 15% thought a blank overhead sign meant the lane was open – when in fact it means the opposite.

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