Majority of motorway refuge area stops are ‘not emergencies’
Motorists are misusing the emergency refuge areas (ERAs) on Britain’s ‘smart’ motorways, with the majority of stops being made for non-emergency reasons.
Second-year evaluation figures released by Highways England for the smart motorway all lane running schemes on junctions 5-7 and J23-27 on the M25 show that non-emergency use of the ERAs was judged to be 79% and 82% respectively. The same study found 91% of HGV stops between J5-7 and 23-27 were not emergencies.
The figures follow recent RAC research that suggests 52% of drivers don’t know what an emergency refuge area is or that they should use them in the event of a breakdown or an accident – even though smart motorways are becoming increasingly common across the UK.
A survey of over 20,000 drivers published by the AA last year found eight out of 10 think that axing the hard shoulder has made motorways more dangerous than for years. Last month saw Highways England announce trials of bright orange refuge areas on the newly opened M3 smart motorway, as part of an ongoing review into the design and spacing of emergency areas on smart motorways, and is due to report on its findings this autumn.
Ranjen Gohri, director of auto breakdown cover providers 24|7 Vehicle Rescue, said: “The danger we face is that if ERAs get clogged up with non-emergency vehicles, those who suffer genuine emergencies may be left stranded in a live lane with nowhere to go. That’s clearly a real safety hazard and I’d urge Highways England to better educate the British public about how to use a Smart motorways so that that they understand the risks.”For more of the latest industry news, click here.