Motorists are being urged to adhere to the law when it comes to using a new section of upgraded motorway on the M62 in West Yorkshire.
From today (5 August) the hard shoulder between junctions 25 near Brighouse and 26 near Bradford will be in use as an additional lane on a permanent basis.
Further along the motorway, between junctions 26 and 28 near Leeds, the hard shoulder is already used – but only during peak periods, when traffic levels are higher.
It is along this later section where the Highways Agency and West Yorkshire Police have noticed drivers are illegally using the hard shoulder at times when it is not designated for use as an additional lane – putting both themselves and other road users at risk.
The hard shoulder should only be used as a running lane when a speed limit is displayed above it and signs next to the motorway display the message to use the hard shoulder. Drivers face a fine and points on their licence if they are caught using it when it is not available as an additional running lane.
Chief Inspector Mark Bowmass, from West Yorkshire Police, said: “We would prefer to see good driving behaviour than impose penalties, but people need to understand that travelling on the hard shoulder when it is not available as a traffic lane is illegal and unsafe. You can cause a traffic collision and put lives at risk.
“You should only drive along the hard shoulder when a speed limit is displayed above the lane. If there is a red X or nothing displayed above it, don’t drive on it – at those times it is for genuine emergencies only.”
Highways Agency project manager David Pilsworth added: “Some of the hard shoulder misuse reported to us by the police, and observed by our traffic officers on the ground, could be an honest mistake because drivers are under the impression that the hard shoulder is available to traffic at all times.
“However, I suspect there could also be a lot of wilful ignorance – even if motorists aren’t necessarily aware that they are breaking the law.
“Our message is clear: Observe, follow and respect the overhead signs, especially when there is a red X, and only use the hard shoulder when it is indicated as an extra lane. No display means normal rules apply.”
The use of the hard shoulder as a running lane is known as a managed motorway. Further sections of this scheme are due to be opened to traffic in the coming months.