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Drivers "putting lives at risk" by stopping on motorway

AA Ireland and the Road Safety Authority is reminding all road-users not to stop or walk on a motorway unless it is an emergency, after a survey showed that 45 per cent of drivers use the hard shoulder to make or take calls.

Traffic on the M7, Dublin
Traffic on the M7, Dublin
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

DRIVERS ARE BEING warned that they are putting their lives and others at risk by stopping on the motorway to call or text.

The Road Safety Authority and AA Ireland have come together to warn all road users not to stop or walk on a motorway unless it is an emergency.

Their call comes on foot of the results of a recent survey of 8,400 drivers that showed that almost half of them (45 per cent) have stopped on the hard shoulder of a motorway to make or receive a call.

The survey was carried out by AA Ireland and the RSA is now launching a new radio ad to draw people’s attention to the dangers of stopping on a motorway.

Conor Faughnan, Director of Policy, AA Ireland said:

A motorway hard shoulder is an extremely dangerous place to be and should only be used in an emergency, for example, if your car breaks down and you can’t restart it. It’s alarming the number of motorists willing to casually pull over and put themselves and their passengers in a dangerous situation, and all too often to respond to a text or answer a call.

He said that AA patrols are called to an average of 60 motorists per week on the motorway network, and four of those are for people who have completely run out of fuel.

Noel Brett of the RSA noted that pedestrians are particularly vulnerable as if they walk on the motorway they are exposed to vehicles travelling at speeds of up to 120km/h.

He said that in 2010, four pedestrians were killed on Irish motorways, which represented 1 in 5 of all motorway deaths.

In the poll, 236 drivers even admitted stopping to collect or drop off a passenger on a motorway hard shoulder.

AA Ireland described this as “ludicrous”.

Brett said that the message is clear: “Never ever walk on a motorway”. He said it is both unsafe and an offence.

Drivers should also ensure they leave enough room between their car and the vehicle in front to allow for a safe stop – you should make sure that you are at least four seconds behind and double this in wet conditions.

According to the AA survey, 1 in 5 drivers have stopped on a motorway hard shoulder to take a nap.

Both the RSA and AA Ireland appeal to motorists to use their common sense and not to pull in for a nap or to switch drivers on a motorway.

Motorists are advised to choose a safe location off the motorway, such as a designated rest area, service area or by taking the next exit to make the swop or to get a cup of coffee and take a 15-20 minute nap.

Fifteen per cent of those polled said they had stopped within the last two years to investigate a dashboard warning light – AA Ireland says don’t attempt repairs on a motorway yourself, and instead have this looked at as soon as possible once you exit the motorway.

Since 2005, almost 100 people have been killed or seriously injured as a result of collisions on Ireland’s motorways.

Of these, eight people died and 14 were seriously injured in 2010, which is the worst year since 2007 when 26 people were killed or seriously injured.

An information leaflet entitled ‘Motorway Driving’ plus a dedicated section on safe motorway use can be found on rsa.ie>

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