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- 16 million motorists could unwittingly break the law this bank holiday weekend by misusing the hard shoulder -

Embargoed until 00.01 on Friday 2nd May 2008: As May Day Bank Holiday approaches and motorists prepare to face the traffic mayhem on UK motorways, research shows that a worrying 50 per cent are unaware that – unless you have broken down - stopping or driving on the hard shoulder is against the law.

Research commissioned by esure car insurance showed that existing trials, inviting motorists to use the hard shoulder as an extra lane in times of congestion, have fuelled this misunderstanding further with nearly one in five (17 per cent) motorists already believing it is legal to use the hard shoulder in heavy traffic.

The research found that more than a third of motorists (36 per cent) have used the hard shoulder for reasons other than emergency breakdowns. The top reasons that motorists use the hard shoulder for, other than emergencies are:

1. Stopping to read maps (27 per cent)
2. Using a mobile phone (22 per cent)
3. Stopping to go to the toilet (21 per cent)
4. Getting items out of the boot of the car (17 per cent)
5. Separating squabbling children (16 per cent)
6. To get some air and stretch their legs (14 per cent)

However, over a third (37 per cent) of motorists have recently used the hard shoulder to pull over safely after breaking down, which demonstrates the importance of the hard shoulder to UK drivers in times of emergency.

The government’s proposals for allowing motorists to use the hard shoulder at times of congestion have been met with much criticism; and more than three quarters (78 per cent) of those questioned stated that they feel the changes to current road legislation will only lead to further confusion on UK motorways.

It is estimated that more than 27 million motorists4 (81 per cent) were worried that the plans would mean that there would not be anywhere safe to stop in the case of an emergency. Furthermore, 85 per cent were concerned that emergency services could be prevented from reaching their destinations. Overall, a massive 89 per cent of UK drivers said that they felt safer driving on motorways because of having access to the hard shoulder.

More than half (58 per cent) of those questioned said they wouldn’t feel confident driving on the motorways with no hard shoulder available, and nearly a third (27 per cent) would take an alternative route – even if this added time on to their journey.

Mike Pickard, Head of Risk and Underwriting at esure, said:
“It is very worrying that such a large percentage of UK drivers are unsure of the correct use of the hard shoulder, especially in the run up to one of the busiest bank holidays.

“Those planning to drive on UK motorways, should ensure that they plan and prepare for their journeys well in advance – such as finding out where service stations are located en route- and are clear on where they can and can’t drive on the hard shoulder.”

Gender Divide

Almost half (43 per cent) of male motorists said they had stopped on the hard shoulder – even if they had not broken down - compared to only 30 per cent of female motorists.

Men are most likely to stop on the hard shoulder to go to the toilet (29 per cent) compared to only 13 per cent of women. And women are most likely to use the hard shoulder to stop and check a road map (30 per cent) compared to less than a quarter of men (24 per cent).
64 per cent of women claimed that they would feel nervous driving on the motorway without this facility, in contrast to just over half (53 per cent) of men.

Regional Differences

Londoners are most likely to misuse the hard shoulder – with over half (55 per cent) admitting to having pulled in at least once although they hadn’t broken down. In fact, 16 per cent of Londoners have used the hard shoulder simply to finish off their mobile phone conversation (double the national average).

18 per cent of motorists from Birmingham admit that they would pull on to the hard shoulder to retrieve an item from their boot, with a fifth (21 per cent) confessing that they would use the hard shoulder to go to the toilet.

In contrast, those from Scotland are more knowledgeable when it comes to road regulations, with 63 per cent claiming that they are aware that the hard shoulder is solely for breakdowns.

Worryingly, almost two thirds (60 per cent) of Brummie drivers said that they thought the government’s proposals would cause confusion on the motorway.
A huge 95 per cent of Manchester motorists say that they feel safer driving on UK motorways due to the presence of the hard shoulder, with a further 84 per cent agreeing that UK motorways will become less safe if this facility is removed.
Visit for a comprehensive guide to UK road regulations and to find out where the hard shoulder trials are taking place before setting out on your journey.

- ends -

About esure car insurance:

• No claim discount up to a maximum of 75 per cent - policyholders with 5 years or more no claim discount will immediately get a 70 per cent discount and can then earn an extra 1 per cent discount per year for the next 5 claim-free years with esure.

• Eligible drivers who protect their no claim discount get ‘protection for life’ - giving them a guaranteed discount level regardless of any claims made throughout the life of their policy with the company.

• Vandalism claims do not affect a policyholder’s no claim discount as long as the incident has been reported to the police and has a crime reference number and uninsured driver claims do not affect a policyholder’s no claim discount as long as the customer is not at fault and those responsible were identified.

• Free courtesy car offered as standard – provided the car is being repaired by one of esure’s recommended repairers.

Notes to Editors:

1 50 per cent of total UK motorists based on DfT Transport Statistics – 33,522,106 motor vehicles currently licensed 2006

2 esure used the independent online research company FlyResearch who surveyed 1,000 of the UK’s motorists, from across the country aged 18 and over, on 28th April 2008.

3 Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly’s recent controversial proposals to open up hard shoulders as extra lanes in times of congestion are currently being trialled on the M42 near Birmingham.

4 81 per cent of total UK motorists based on DfT Transport Statistics – 33,522,106 motor vehicles currently licensed 2006

Press Contacts:

For further information please contact the esure press office at Mischief PR on 020 7100 9999 or email

About esure:

esure was launched in 2001 and is a joint venture between Peter Wood and HBOS. The company offers car, home, pet and travel insurance over the internet and by phone. esure also offers car insurance cover through Halifax Car Insurance, Sainsbury’s Car Insurance and, most recently, the Sheilas’ Wheels brands.

esure has secured one of the UK’s most iconic sponsorships: the ITV National weather.

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Mischief PR in the following categories: Men's Interest, Women's Interest & Beauty, Motoring, Travel, Transport & Logistics, for more information visit