Some drivers appear to lack any common sense on motorways. Many have been caught making dangerous decisions that put their’s and other’s lives at risk.

A survey of 28 police forces in England and Wales reveals that around 18,000 tickets have been issued in the past five years.

The wrong way

Offences range from making U-turns on motorways and driving the wrong way on slip roads, to stopping in live lanes and driving on hard shoulders.

The Auto Express study found the most common offence is making an unnecessary stop on a hard shoulder or emergency refuge area. Over 6,820 tickets were issued for this between 2016 and mid-2021.

Some 2,645 fines were issued to those driving on hard shoulders. Furthermore, 837 people were caught driving or stopping on verges or central reservations.

Not so clever

Essex Police and Avon and Somerset Police said officers had logged thousands of ‘Red X’ offences. These are committed by drivers travelling in closed motorway lanes. This has been an offence since 2019’s launch of new smart motorway rules. Recent survey found that a high number of drivers were unaware of these rules. It led to a new awareness campaign lunched by DVSA earlier this year. It also fuelled the condemnation of the controversial smart motorways,  labelled as ‘death traps’ by some, following numerous fatal accidents.

Whilst it may seem difficult to understand how drovers can drive the wrong way on motorways, a total of 165 people have been caught since 2016. Added to this are 204 motorists driving the wrong way on slip roads. A further 82 drivers have been ticketed for making U-turns on motorways.

Of course learner drivers make mistakes. Prior to the introduction of driving lessons for learners on motorways since 2018, 514 learners were stopped for breaching these rules prior to that.

Taking responsibility

Consumer editor at Auto Express, Hugo Griffiths believes concern over smart motorways has overshadowed basic “driver behaviour”.

“Almost every collision is caused by human error. While this can never be eliminated, it is difficult to fathom the thought processes that cause people to make a U-turn on a motorway”.

He believes “little will change” until we go back to considering “driver behaviour” and responsibilities. We can’t just blame road designs for actions that go against basic common sense and driver skills.

“It is only by improving driver behaviour, however that occurs, that safety will be improved.

“We can blame inanimate stretches of asphalt and concrete for collisions as much as we like, but the uncomfortable truth is that the real fault lies with our own behaviour.”

A fine mess

The data also shows 469 pedestrians have been caught walking along motorways since 2016.

Most of the motorway-specific offences unearthed in the investigation are punishable by three penalty points and a £100 fine. However, illegally stopping on the hard shoulder and refuge area only carries a non-endorsable £30 penalty.