September 23 2014 Latest news:
Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
People picking flowers and a driver who thought the “fire” notification on their dashboard display meant their car was ablaze - instead of the name of the Adele track they were listening to.
These are just some of the reasons Highways Agency Traffic Officers were given by drivers who had stopped illegally on the hard shoulder of motorways. It is illegal to stop on a hard shoulder if there is no emergency.
Other classic excuses for stopping on the hard shoulder included:
* One motorist parked up and fell asleep on the M6.
* People stopping to read a map or check their sat-navs.
* Traffic officers stopped two cars on the hard shoulder – the owners were half way through the selling and buying process for one of the cars.
* One driver realised their car insurance policy was up for renewal – they were ringing around for quotes to renew.
* A group of motorcyclists parked on the hard shoulder on the M1 to review their route and have a drink.
* Taxi drivers were caught waiting on the hard shoulder around Heathrow airport for their client’s flights to arrive.
* A mobile phone operator, stopping at regular intervals in their private car carrying out signal tests on the hard shoulder.
* Have you broken down Sir? No, came the reply, we are taking pictures of our new born grandchild (in their open top sports car) as it is a lovely day.
Agency data shows that between July and September last year 334 drivers in the East region stopped on the hard shoulder when there was no emergency.
It is also illegal to drive under a red X sign which is displayed when the lane ahead is closed.
Jamie Hassall, Highways Agency national enforcement co-ordinator, said: “Every day, millions of people use our motorways. Most of them use the hard shoulder correctly and don’t ignore red X’s, but we are appealing to the few who put themselves, other road users, and those working on motorways at risk.
“Where the hard shoulder is used as an additional traffic lane at peak times, you can only drive on it if there is a speed limit over it. When a red X is displayed over any lane, it’s simple – don’t drive on it.”
Inspector Simon Hood, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Roads Policing Unit, said: “Our position is quite simple, if there’s a red X above any lane don’t drive on it and if it appears whilst you’re in it then leave it when safe to do so.
“There are many reasons as to why a red X would appear above a lane but when people drive in the lane they should consider that they may well be putting themselves or others in danger and could well be slowing our response to an incident.
“Driving in a ‘closed’ lane also carries a maximum financial penalty of £1000 and drivers can be disqualified from driving.”