While statistics suggest that motorways are the safest roads on which to drive, there remain many dangers, some of which are not very obvious to road users.
Did you know that stopping on the hard shoulder of a motorway is probably the most dangerous thing you can do? Your life expectancy, when pulled in to the hard shoulder is reduced to twenty minutes! The longer you remain there, the greater the risk.
Don’t stop unless it is an emergency. Being lost, is not an emergency. Much better to drive to the nearest exit or rest area and seek directions. If you do suffer a breakdown, turn on your hazard lights, get out of your vehicle and stay well clear of it. Try and stop at a spot that is well lit and under a light if possible. Leave your car from the passenger side reducing your risk of being hit by an oncoming vehicle. If there is a barrier, try and get over it and wait for help on the far side.
Inform the Gardaí and wait for assistance. Even if you think you can fix a minor breakdown such as repairing a puncture, don’t. Wait until there is a highly visible vehicle shielding you and your car from the oncoming traffic on the motorway. Our first instinct is to stop driving as soon as we think we have a flat tyre. We should resist this urge and drive on to a rest area. Your car might suffer some wheel damage but it is better to risk this than your life on the hard shoulder.
Never pull in to the hard shoulder to take a phone call, read a map or even have a rest. Keep going until there is a proper rest stop with a parking area.
The Road Safety Authority in Ireland (RSA) polled over 8,000 motorway users and nearly half of the respondents said that they stopped on the hard shoulder to make/receive a mobile phone call. Twenty percent of those polled said that it was to change drivers and a further 20% to look at a map. Other reasons included to go to the toilet, to discipline a child and to investigate a warning light on the dashboard.
We hope that by highlighting the danger of this practice that our behaviour will change.