Top tips for summer driving


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Highways England urges drivers to prepare before leaving on their journey and to know about the signs they may see on motorways

England’s motorways and major A roads saw over 45,000 breakdowns last summer, which prompts the question – do drivers know what to do if they break down?

To help drivers arrive at their destinations safely, Highways England has compiled a list of helpful resources, including advice about driving on ‘smart motorways.’

“We want to be sure that drivers understand the signs and signals and know exactly what to do if their vehicle breaks down,” Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England Chief Executive explains. “We also urge drivers to ensure their vehicles are in good shape for the journeys before they set out - to help them get to their destinations safely.”

Covering 236 miles of the M25, M1, M42/M40, M20, M6, M62, and M4/M5, smart motorways help reduce roadway congestion and traffic by opening up the hard shoulders as traffic lanes. Highways England encourages drivers to follow the following top tips while using smart motorways:

  • Do not drive in any lanes closed by a red “X” – this sign is used to keep drivers, as well as road workers, safe in the lane ahead; driving in this lane will put them at risk 
  • Broken white lines indicates a normal running lane 
  • Solid white lines indicate the hard shoulder, so don’t drive in it unless directed to do so 
  • Should you encounter a problem with your vehicle, such as a warning light, Highways England advises you exit the smart motorway as quickly as possible at the next slip road or at a service area
  • For emergencies, use the refuge area if there’s no hard shoulder available 
  • In the event of a break down, turn on your hazard lights, use you mobile to call the police on 999 and notify the operator of your location.

Highways England’s summer campaign is also supported by the AA and RAC.

“Drivers should do all they can prior to setting off to ensure the chances of breaking down on a motorway are as small as possible,” Edmund King OBE, AA President said. “This means you should check the vehicle over properly and make sure you have enough fuel. Planning your route properly will help you not to get caught out by avoidable problems.”

Before setting off on a summer holiday road trip, Highways England provides helpful advice, such as:

Planning your journey

  • Using their app, Highways England allows drivers to plan their holiday route, or any other regular journeys as well. You can also checkout other journey planning websites online such as AA Route Planner, RAC Route Planner and Google Maps.

Know the traffic patterns 

  • Be sure to check the predicted and live traffic information via Traffic England before leaving for your journey. o Make sure you’re well equipped for the journey, making sure you pack any necessary items such as food, drinking water and medicine.

During the journey

  • To keep up to date with current traffic conditions, ask a fellow driver to use their mobile device to find the information for you – remember, it’s illegal to use hand held devices while driving.
  • Keep an eye on signs and signals on the road as well for any useful information that may help you.

For more information on what to do in a breakdown, read our handy guide.

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