Interested in becoming a more skilful driver? Visit the Bristol IAM group's website:
The Highway Code has been updated at regular intervals over the years - when was the last time you brushed up on it?
DRIVING TIPS FROM BRISTOL ADVANCED MOTORISTS
Motorway breakdown: beware of the hard shoulder!
Holidays and modern life makes for long motorway journeys and sadly many of these journeys are interrupted by breakdowns and long delays.
But motorists’ troubles aren’t over once the car is on the hard shoulder. In fact they could be only just beginning because it’s is an exceptionally hazardous place - more hazardous than the motorway itself and on which many people are killed each year often because of ‘Target Fixation’.
Target fixation is a process by which a driver is focused so intently on your parked car with its hazards on that they fail to take avoiding action and crash into it.
Understanding the risks on the hard shoulder and knowing what to do will keep you and your passengers safer. Here are a few things to consider:
- Firstly, remember that it is illegal to stop on a hard shoulder, other than in an emergency.
- At the first sign of trouble with your vehicle, if you have time, indicate your intention to pull over to the hard shoulder.
- Leave enough room for any passengers to leave the vehicle via the nearside doors and tell them to get behind the crash barrier.
- Leave pets inside the vehicle.
- Once your passengers are out, move the vehicle to the far left of the hard shoulder close up to the crash barrier - turn your steered wheels fully to the left - consider whether putting your hazard warning lights on will leave you vulnerable to target fixation - check your mirror and get out of the vehicle to join your passengers.
- Once behind the crash barrier, wait slightly further back from the rear of your vehicle. This is safest position and avoids any flying debris if a target fixated driver strikes your vehicle.
- The hard shoulder is an extremely unsafe place to carry out repairs yourself and attempting to use a reflective triangle will put you at even greater risk - so don’t do either.
- If you call for breakdown assistance on your mobile phone give the breakdown people the information on the boards placed at 500m intervals.
- Or, more preferably, call from one of the emergency phones positioned at half-a-mile intervals along the motorway. This tells the Motorway Control Centre your exact location. Look for arrows on small marker posts indicating the direction of the nearest phone.
- If you are a lone female and feel threatened in any way, inform the Control Centre and return to the vehicle and wait in the front passenger seat with the doors locked and the seatbelt on. Motorway Police usually respond immediately in this situation. The moment you feel safe get out of the vehicle and back behind the barrier.
- On re-joining the motorway, don’t forget to use the hard shoulder as an acceleration lane to match your speed to the flow of traffic - indicate well in advance - and then merge with the traffic already in lane one.
Get Advanced training – take advantage of the IAM’s ‘Skill for Life’ advanced driving course which will teach you the skills needed to increase not only your MPG – but your driving skills.
For more information on becoming an Advanced Driver, telephone 07071 201173 or email