The Highways Agency has announced that a two and a half mile southbound stretch of the M42 motorway between junctions 4 and 3A will signal that hard-shoulder congestion-easing traffic can drive at speeds of up to 60 mph.
Green Flag, however, want to stress that while this may well ease jams, motorists need to remain responsible and obey the overhead message boards each day, rather than assume that it has become a routine.
Gary Amos, spokesperson for Green Flag, comments: "We believe that the use of the hard shoulder as a running lane goes some way to ease congestion on this busy stretch of motorway. However, this is a short-term solution rather than the answer to improving overcrowded roads and it does have some road safety implications.
"The hard shoulder should not become a default additional lane for drivers to use, as and when they please. The hard shoulder is there for use in emergency situations and is a dangerous place to be stranded. Incorrect use of hard shoulder running lanes by motorists who are unsure of the rules or who are rushing to get from A to B could have severe implications for road safety, especially during dangerous road and weather conditions, such as fog, which can seriously impair motorists’ reactions.
"We strongly believe that hard shoulder running lanes should only be used during peak times to ease congestion in slow moving traffic, where roads are closely monitored and only in good weather conditions."
Green Flag advises motorists who anticipate an emergency to use the hard shoulder lane to decelerate, before stopping as far over to the left as possible, preferably near an emergency telephone, to look out for any debris on the hard shoulder that could damage your vehicle, turn your front wheels towards the grass verge and to switch on your hazard lights, along with sidelights, in the dark or when visibility is poor.