New survey finds 56% of drivers avoid driving on the hard shoulder when it’s open
According to new research carried out by Kwik Fit, more than half of motorists in the UK refrain from using the open hard shoulder on smart motorways.
From a survey of 2,003 drivers in the UK, some 56% said they avoid driving on the hard shoulder of a smart motorway when all lanes are running and the hard shoulder is open for use – this is equivalent to 23.1 million people nationwide.
Of the 56%, around 29% gave their reason for not using the hard shoulder as uncertainty about whether they could actually use it or not, whilst safety was the biggest concern for most other participants.
Around 25% said they refrain from driving on the hard shoulder just in case they come across a stationary vehicle up ahead, whilst 24% alluded to concerns over smart motorways being safe in general and as a result they tend to feel better when using them as they would a traditional motorway.
Furthermore, 15% said they have a dislike of driving too close to the verge, whilst another 15% were worried about waste on the hard should possibly causing damage to their vehicle or leading to a puncture.
In addition, 14% said they preferred to avoid a situation where they might not be able to change lanes quickly in the event of an emergency.
When it comes to uncertainty, 20% of those taking part in the survey said they were unsure when the hard should was in use as a running lane, whilst 13% thought you could never use the hard shoulder at any time.
Just 42% of respondents correctly stated that you can only use the hard shoulder to drive down when the overhead signs inform you that it’s in use.
Only 29% of those questioned knew that a speed limit sign over a lane meant the lane was open, whilst 45% of respondents believed a sign with flashing yellow lights and an arrow pointing down and left meant a lane was open, even though it really means there’s an obstruction up ahead and drivers need to move to the lane on their left.
“These findings reflect the concerns and uncertainty that many drivers have when driving on smart motorways,” said Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, adding: “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.”
Mr Griggs suggested that there should be a nationwide information campaign to let drivers know exactly how the smart motorway works and when the hard shoulder can or cannot be used.
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