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Half of motorists surveyed putting lives at risk by stopping on motorway to call or text Half of motorists surveyed putting lives at risk by stopping on motorway to call or text

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Half of motorists surveyed putting lives at risk by stopping on motorway to call or text

Published 28th November 2011Read Time 8 min

AA Ireland and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) are today Monday 28th November reminding all road-users not to stop or walk on a motorway, unless it is an emergency. This comes as results of a recent survey, conducted by AA Ireland* of 8,400 drivers, reveals that almost half (45%) of drivers have stopped on the hard shoulder of a motorway to make or receive a call.
In response to such a lack of awareness of the important safety considerations when driving on a motorway, the RSA is broadcasting a new 30 second radio advert on national and local radio from this week.
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.”
“If you experience car trouble, make your way to the nearest exit or designated rest area and find a safe place to pull in before calling for assistance. If this is not an option, pull in as far as you can and use your hazard lights to alert traffic behind you. To reduce the risk of breaking down on the motorway, please ensure you have plenty of fuel in your tank before you head off. 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.”
The number of people found to be walking on motorways is also of serious concern to the RSA  and AA Ireland. Noel Brett, CEO, RSA reminds road-users that “stopping or walking on a motorway is extremely dangerous and could lead to death or serious injury. Pedestrians are among the most vulnerable road users and when exposed to vehicles travelling at speeds of up to 120km/h, the risk of death or injury are greatly increased. Last year (2010), four pedestrians were killed on Irish motorways, representing 1 in 5 of all motorway deaths. 
During the AA poll 236 individual motorists admitted to the ludicrous practice of stopping to either collect or drop off a passenger on a motorway hard shoulder placing both themselves and the pedestrian in question even more so in highly dangerous position.  
Mr. Brett added, “The message is clear: never ever walk on a motorway. Pedestrians are at a massive risk on a motorway – you’re taking your life in your hands and putting other road users in danger too. Likewise, drivers who stop on a motorway can cause collisions involving their own car and potentially many others. It’s unsafe and it’s 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.” Concluded Mr. Brett.
According to the AA survey, 1 in 5 drivers have stopped on a motorway hard shoulder to take a nap. While a responsible approach to driver fatigue is actively encouraged, both the RSA and AA Ireland are appealing 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, i.e. a designated rest area, serviced 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.
15% of those polled indicated they had stopped within the last two years to investigate a dashboard warning light, something which is important to have looked at the earliest possible convenience but which does not merit an emergency stop on a motorway.  AA Ireland is advising motorists to have this looked at as soon as possible once they exit the motorway. Drivers are also advised not to attempt repairs on a motorway themselves.
Conor Faughnan, AA Ireland said: “Your car is important of course but your safety is a lot more important. We normally advise people not to ignore a warning light as to do so could mean a costly repair. But on a motorway you have to be aware of the danger of stopping. Drive the car to the nearest exit, leave the motorway and then stop to check your vehicle or call us out.” 
To promote safe motorway driving and address these serious safety issues the RSA has launched a new 30 second radio advert that focuses on Lane Discipline plus Overtaking and reminds the public never to walk on a motorway and never to stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway unless in an emergency.
Since 2005, almost 100 people have been killed or seriously injured as a result of collisions on Ireland’s motorway network. 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
Drivers wishing to share their thoughts and observations on motorway safety are invited to post a comment on the AA Ireland Blog at or on the RSA’s Facebook or Twitter page.
For any enquiries or for verification contact:
Miriam O’ Neill, Press Officer, AA Ireland on 01 6179394 or 0857387443
Communications Department, Road Safety Authority on 09625008
*AA August Motoring Panel Poll of 8,400 drivers
Notes to the editor;
Fig. 1 Reasons poll respondents indicated they have stopped on a motorway hard shoulder within the last two years (Based on 8442 responses collected during August 2011)

To make/receive a mobile phone call 44.6%
To switch drivers 21.8%
To look at a map 18.3%
To send a text message/use a Smartphone 18.0%
To take a rest 17.9%
To allow a child to go to the toliet 16.6%
To go to the toliet 16.3%
Other 15.4%
To investigate a dashboard warning light 14.9%
To allow someone to throw up 11.6%
To reprogramme a GPS device 10.5%
To discipline a child 5.8%
To change an item of clothing 5.3%
To pick up/drop off a passenger 2.8%
To clean your car 0.7%

Top Tips for Safe Motorway Use

  • Never, ever walk on a motorway
  • Never, ever stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway
  • Left lane for normal driving
  • Keep lane discipline
  • Keep your distance
  • Do not drive in the hard shoulder
  • Always obey the rules of the road in respect of Motorway driving
  • Prepare for your journey
  • In the case of an emergency use the SOS phone and wait behind the barrier
  • Always be careful and pay attention when joining a motorway
  • Signal in good time before joining the motorway to let others know you intend to join the motorway
  • Check your mirrors and your blind spot while on the slip road approaching the motorway.
  • Give way to traffic already on the motorway
  • Change your speed to fit safely and legally into the traffic in the left hand lane.