Queueing on hard shoulder - Cris_on_the_gas

With increased congestion on slip roads there is now a growing habit of queueing on the hard shoulder of a motorway. Often up to 300 yard countdown and beyond. However HC rule 264 clearly states "You MUST NOT drive on the hard shoulder except in an emergency or if directed to do so by the police, traffic officers in uniform or by signs"

Sitting in lane 1 at start of slip road with left indicator on will most likely result in being taken out by following vehicle travelling at 70mph +.

Enterering slip road and trying to cut in would most likely annoy people who may have queued for several minutes.

Any thoughts ?

Queueing on hard shoulder - Engineer Andy

The problem often is caused by the following:

1) Poor road design - either the slip-off is too short and cars moving along in lane two realise very late on that to slip off, they have to cut across other road users, OR, as seems to be increasingly the case, the 'slip off' is really just another lane for a mile or so, implying the minute the 'filter' sign appears everyone slipping off should be in that lane, despite the slip off itself (i.e. where it diverges from the motorway etc) being some way off.

Examples of the former are often found on 'old' dual carriageways, particularly in rural areas, and I've heard of accidents when people brake too late and cause following vehicles to swerve and crash, or side-on ones due to people cutting in. For the latter type, there's quite a few local to me in Hertfordshire (the A1 Southbound slip off at Stevenage North and other side of the road Northbound at the Letchworth/Baldock junction slip off), but BY FAR the worst I've come across is the M4 eastbound slip off to the M25. Lane 1 always full of traffic, no-one leaving any room and others bombing along till the last moment and cutting in, causing bunching and near misses.

Both sets of drivers are at fault, but its all brought about by poor road design. Needless to say, traffic jams on lane 1 even build up outside the rush hour, not because of too much traffic on the M25 either, as at that time lanes 2-4 on the M4 are almost empty and the M25 is flowing nicely, including at the slip on.

2) Poor driving, as shown above. People leave too little gaps and accelerate and brake hard to stop people in the second lane from cutting in, causing bunching and more hold-ups behind, impeding the flow of the queue. I agree that it can be very dangerous for people to slow to a crawl/stop in lane 2 (especially at the end of the slip off), but its also partially the fault of following drivers not paying attention and moving to lanes 3 and 4 (if available) early enough if they are not turning off.

I think the situation would be improved a bit at least if the slip offs on junctions for two major directions (e.g. the M4 Westbound to M5 north/south, similarly for the M5 end changing to the A30 and A38 just after Exeter) to have signed twin lanes for each direction early enough for traffic to get in the correct lane, though not too soon for the reasons stated above.

The aforementioned M4/M25 and A1 junction 'slip offs' are, in my view, not just useless, but downright dangerous, particularly at noght and/or in poor weather conditions. I myself have had a few near misses, and to be honest its difficult sometimes when the slip road is very long to decide whether to continue on (even if you can see gaps forming up ahead in the slip lane) or get caught in a very long queue for many minutes and still be at risk for idiots cutting into gaps that aren't there. I normally pull in early, but it can often be a very frustrating experience...

Unless there's an accident blocking the road ahead (that's minor [no injuries or risk of the vehicles moving, leaking fuel etc or catching fire/exploding), I may think of using the hard shoulder to pass if the remainder of the traffic in lanes 2 and up isn't slowing down enough to allow me and other drivers to pull out and around, but I would only do so if I wasn't a material witness to the accident, needed to help or was too far back (which would encourage other drivers to do the same). Probably not a good idea if people are milling about outside their vehicles - as I say, it would be more to get my car out of the way to avoid secondary accidents happening from others who can't see what's happening from a long way behind in other lanes.

I think that the removal of the hard shoulder is patently stupid, as it can often lead to cars being stranded in occupied lanes (rare for cars to make it to the 'refuge' points, because its not easy to see where they are, especially if your vehicle has a serious fault and you need to pull of asap), accidents and mostly huge tailbacks as a result of one lane being rendered useless for a mile or so when the Traffic Officers temporarily cone it off, assuming they can actually get to the scene, as their normal route is often blocked.

As an example of this, last year I was on my way home from holidaying in Cornwall, driving along the A30, and there was a serious accident ahead (unfortunately it occurred after the last turn off before the M5 starts/first slip off for Exeter) and so, because it was a dual carriageway with no hard shoulder, the emergency and recovery vehicles had to get through 5-10 miles of queuing traffic to get to the scene, meaning that to get everyone treated enough to be stable for travel to hospital and recovery/cleaning up/noting the scene took best part of two hours, which, compared to some major crashes on the motorways, isn't that bad (fortunately nobody seriously hurt or chemical spills/artic lorries shedding their loads).

Still, if there was a hard should, or at least a 'crossing point' further along for emergency and recovery vehicles to get to the scene more quickly, the situation would've been resolved in less tha half the time. I felt sorry for one guy ahead of me - he had some food shopping that (it was quite warm that day) was rapidly defrosting!

Edited by Engineer Andy on 05/12/2017 at 11:28

Queueing on hard shoulder - Andrew-T

<< ... but it's all brought about by poor road design ... >>

That's easily said, but it's not always true - though it may be a valid criticism if the road is a new one. In many cases the problem is caused by growth in traffic, either by 'natural' causes or because the M-way offered a faster route, thereby generating more traffic than expected.

As an example, the north Lancaster junction on the M6 (which admittedly was always tight because of a large river nearby) was recently replaced by a huge parallel road, which at present looks like overkill, but who knows? When built it probably served its purpose. Planners have always found it hard to allow for growth - and have probably been forced to underdesign to save money. Plus the fact that congestion may be concentrated at rush hour. There are (I hope) limits to how much land we need to hand over to vehicles (and their occupants of course).

Queueing on hard shoulder - Engineer Andy

<< ... but it's all brought about by poor road design ... >>

That's easily said, but it's not always true - though it may be a valid criticism if the road is a new one. In many cases the problem is caused by growth in traffic, either by 'natural' causes or because the M-way offered a faster route, thereby generating more traffic than expected.

As an example, the north Lancaster junction on the M6 (which admittedly was always tight because of a large river nearby) was recently replaced by a huge parallel road, which at present looks like overkill, but who knows? When built it probably served its purpose. Planners have always found it hard to allow for growth - and have probably been forced to underdesign to save money. Plus the fact that congestion may be concentrated at rush hour. There are (I hope) limits to how much land we need to hand over to vehicles (and their occupants of course).

True - civil servants are very bad at future planning, as evidenced (especially) by the MOD. What IS amazing is how much money is always available for 'pet projects' (including paying £Ms for new council offices) or 'resurfacing of the road local to the councillor's home', or, in the case of my local council, spending £500k on 'remodelling' a section of the town centre that wasn't required and now has less parking than before.

In addition, how often have you seen councils spend hundreds of thousands of £s on a pukka road repair, only for utility firms to dig a lot of it up again a matter on months (sometimes even weeks or days) later for planned works, patching it badly which reduces the lifespam on taht section of road by well over a decade and which then has to be repaired by the council at our expense? No planning at all - perhaps they need to watch that 'Carling Black Label' advert and be forced to co-operate by law.

Same goes for pothole repairs - councils spend more money on compensating vehicle owners for damage caused by reported potholes etc than it would've cost them in the first place to repair the holes. They are currently very lucky that compensation is only legally allowed after a pothole is reported and not repaired or cordoned off within 2? days.

If everyone was aware of this and started reporting ALL damage to the roads, then these bills would go through the proverbial roof. In some areas, they have a backlog of hundreds of years given the resources available (see above for why), and most people didn't care during the faux 'good times of NuLab that vast swathes of these budgets were being diverted into hair-brained schemes locally and nationally, wasting untold £Bns that it will takes decades or more to recover from. Now we are seeing the consequences of this wastage on an industrial scale.

Queueing on hard shoulder - RT

Any thoughts ?

Drivers have always ignored the rules and made up their own as they go along.

Queueing on hard shoulder - gordonbennet

Survival comes before worrying about an offence, better alive and chuntering about a NIP than ''the deceased obeyed the rules to the letter'' read out solemnly in the obituary.

Some junctions don't need hard shoulder queueing because the motorway grinds almost to a halt such is the volume of traffic, some others the traffic is still going by at warp seven, it's nice to see common sense hasn't been banned altogether because most drivers seems to work out what needs doing where sauch problems exist.

Queueing on hard shoulder - JEREMYH

Yes your spot on I drive 90K a year on the motoways and I would rarther pay a fine on the hard shoulder than be a hit a jauganought .As that would only kill you

HGV drivers complain they have no respect anymore I am very sorry to post this but unlike the old days HGV drivers dont have any brains anymore So your safest queueing on the hard shoulder

Edited by JEREMYH on 06/12/2017 at 06:27

Queueing on hard shoulder - Avant

"....BY FAR the worst I've come across is the M4 eastbound slip off to the M25. Lane 1 always full of traffic, no-one leaving any room and others bombing along till the last moment and cutting in, causing bunching and near misses.` -+`"

I'm not defending people who do that, but time and again I've driven past that junction and seen big gaps immediately before the turn-off, and people turning into the left-hand lane without actually cuting in and causing anyone else to brake. Some drivers insist on braking and queuing too soon, and I can understand why others are willing to take the chance.

Queueing on hard shoulder - Smileyman

not sure if it is poor road design, ot planned usage, look at the A406 extension between the foot of the M11 / junction of the A12 up to the A13. The road has 3 lanes for both directions but for every junction lane 1 dissapears to the junction whilst lanes 2 & 3 continue to bidge over the junction below.

So lane 1 has lots of queues, the through drivers use lanes 2 & 3 .... even when lane 1 is free so encourages middle lane use / hogging to avoid switchng lanes / danger of being caught in lane 1 unable to move to lane 2 if not wanting to exit.

As for using the HS as a waiting lane at motorway junction, about 2 weeks ago on M2 J6 (Faversham) London bound there was a queue to leave to gain access to A251 towards Ashford. The queue was caused by roadworks on the A251, this is a glorified country lane so there were traffic lights and all traffic shared the one side of the road. I found myself a long way back before the slip road stationary in lane 1, I dialled 101 to advise Police of problem, the lady who took the call was disinterested bordering on rude ... if there had been an accident this would have been an interesting matter to bring before the coroner ....

Queueing on hard shoulder - argybargy

I saw this a couple of weeks ago whilst queuing on the M53. Cars sailing along the hard shoulder with hazards flashing, suddenly brought to a halt by a driver who had genuinely broken down and had legitimately sought safety on that part of the road. There was a marked reluctance amongst those queueing on the carriageway to give way to the culprits so that they could pass the obstruction, and they had to sit there and wait.

Meantime, had an emergency vehicle been obliged to attend an accident on the carriageway the crew would have lost valuable seconds, perhaps minutes, trying to get past queues of idiots who were trying to save a few seconds to get to an appointment which was no doubt a good deal less urgent.

As stated above, its a no-no to use the HS except in an emergency, unless directed otherwise by police or part time signals. Its clear and unambiguous that "the Next half price sale ends in ten minutes" or "Little George has to get to footy by half ten" are not emergencies.

Edited by argybargy on 06/12/2017 at 10:34

Queueing on hard shoulder - RT

The days of a dedicated hard shoulder for breakdowns and emergency vehicles are over - the much-needed extra capacity coming from Smart Motorways with All Lanes Running and will come to your motorway shortly - it's being rolled out as quick as practical and enable the hard shoulder/exit slip road to be varied in length by overhead signage.

Queueing on hard shoulder - Snakey

A couple if junctions around my area starting seeing queues forming down the sliproad, until people started using the hard shoulder.

The reason? The usual: adding traffic lights to the roundabout, thereby creating a backlog.

Queueing on hard shoulder - RT

Near me is junction 10 of the M42 - the roundabout was originally built with 2 lane slip roads of the motorway and no lights - it's been modified several times, adding part-time lights then full-time lights (spawn of the devil IMO) and the northbound off-slip has been widened to 4 lanes, then onto 5 - all to acxcomodate the queing traffic for the light-controlled roundabout and prevent it queuing on the motorway, which is only 2 lanes anyway.

The big problem is that road alterations are designed by professional highway engineers but then pen-pushers and elected representatives set about reducing the cost - ending up with schemes that sometimes bear no resemblance to the original.

Queueing on hard shoulder - Smileyman

what is needed is users of the road to have an input with the design, they know the junction and probably know the best way to make it better!

Queueing on hard shoulder - Avant

Too true! But the decisions are made by men in suits who travel to work in the civic centre by train or bus, and never see the roads in question. The only time they drive is on Saturdays when they take the Zafira to ferry little Jonny to football or Jodie to ballet.

Queueing on hard shoulder - Andrew-T

Too true! But the decisions are made by men in suits who travel to work in the civic centre by train or bus, and never see the roads in question. The only time they drive is on Saturdays when they take the Zafira to ferry little Jonny to football or Jodie to ballet.

You disappoint me, Avant, coming up with an uncharacteristically sour bit of stereotyping. I'm sure there are many like you describe, but of course they are a faceless group which it is easy for the rest of us to blame. I suspect many of them contribute to the daily gridlock just like us (some of us, anyway :-) )

Queueing on hard shoulder - Engineer Andy

The big problem is that road alterations are designed by professional highway engineers but then pen-pushers and elected representatives set about reducing the cost - ending up with schemes that sometimes bear no resemblance to the original.

I'm not so sure - they always seem to have enough money for the over-use of road signs and traffic calming measures.

Queueing on hard shoulder - RT

The big problem is that road alterations are designed by professional highway engineers but then pen-pushers and elected representatives set about reducing the cost - ending up with schemes that sometimes bear no resemblance to the original.

I'm not so sure - they always seem to have enough money for the over-use of road signs and traffic calming measures.

Same thing - the professional highway engineers get ignored or over-rulled by pen-pushers and councillors.

Queueing on hard shoulder - Snakey

I think thats the case, most highways (especially the local ones) are planned and implmented by people who never leave their office, and rarely drive.

I hope thats the reason, otherwise some of the things that have been done around here must have been done purely out of anti-motorist spite otherwise ;-)

Queueing on hard shoulder - movilogo

I experience it regularly - when I want to leave using slip road and cars are already queuing up on hard shoulder I have no other choice However, this is often the case where hard shoulder usually opened for traffic anyway and gantry sign displayes hard shoulder for Junction XX only etc. before the junction.

Lets admit - our planners did not foresee this exponential growth of population (and cars). So they can't always be blamed.

Queueing on hard shoulder - gordonbennet

Lets admit - our planners did not foresee this exponential growth of population (and cars). So they can't always be blamed.

They only had to open their eyes, the rest of us saw it, maybe the perks and career/political prospects are better when one only sees what one is told to see.

Queueing on hard shoulder - Manatee

I think it's more complicated than the level of growth in population and vehicle numbers.

Improve a road and people change their behaviours - including taking jobs with a longer commute or moving house further away. If there is any relief it is probably to other roads in the area, for a brief period.

 

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