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Parents must not use motorway hard shoulders as naughty step – Highways England

A child was found walking alongside the M4 after being put on ‘time out’ for misbehaving.

Parents are being urged not to use motorway hard shoulders as a “naughty step”.

Highways England issued the warning after a traffic officer found a child walking alongside the M4 near Bristol because they were being put on “time out” for misbehaving.

Simon Jones, a regional director at Highways England, said: “Drivers often think the hard shoulder is a safe place to stop but over 100 people are killed or injured on the hard shoulder every year.

“The advice is simple: be prepared. Check your vehicle before you set out to avoid unnecessary breakdowns, don’t stop except in an emergency, and if you have to stop, make sure you know what to do.”

Drivers should only use hard shoulders when they have broken down or there is an emergency. If possible, they should pull off the motorway at the next exit to avoid stopping next to running traffic.

Incidents of hard shoulder misuse include a family cooking a meal in Dartford, a passenger getting out of a taxi to urinate near Staines and a lorry driver who went for a walk after stopping in a live lane near Northampton.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “There’s a clue in the collective name given to hard shoulders and emergency areas on motorways.

“Highways England calls them places of relative safety and no one should see them as total safe havens but the least worst place to stop when there’s no alternative.

“Ideally, the edge of a motorway should not feature in anyone’s list of bank holiday destinations, certainly not through choice.”

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