Police warn non-UK drivers are misusing refuge areas
Police forces have warned that HGVs are misusing emergency refuge areas (ERAs) created as part of the managed motorway scheme, posing a road safety risk.
They told MPs that the use of ERAs by mainly foreign-registered trucks for drivers’ hours and tachograph breaks is becoming increasingly apparent.
Several all-lane running motorway schemes are in operation across the country, on sections of the M4, M5, M6, M42 and M62 and some involve the use of the hard shoulder as a full-time running lane.
The Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) said: “Stopping on the side of the motorway is very common on the continent, but this is not what ERA bays are designed for in the UK.
“The misuse of ERA bays in this way reduces the number of areas for safety that can be used by motorists in difficulty, increasing the likelihood of a live lane breakdown and with it the risk to the travelling public.”
It added that encounters with foreign drivers have often resulted in “a certain degree of conflict” and was taking time away from the police.
The Metropolitan Police Service said it had observed that “ERAs are frequently used by HGVs for non-emergency stops and the detection and deterrence for such illegal use is inadequate”.
It added that ERAs have insufficient space to accommodate an HGV and a large recovery vehicle.
This month saw the introduction of the latest scheme on a section of the M1 in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, which Highways England estimated could improve journeys for more than 95,000 drivers a day.
However, Highways England said it had recorded “a high level of ERA misuse” on the M25 scheme. “Some 85% from a sample of 392 stops were determined to be non-emergency. This problem appears to be acute for HGVs, with 96% of 135 stops appearing non-emergency.”