Can I get fined for stopping on the hard shoulder?

YOU will find hard shoulders located on motorways across the country.

But are you allowed to drive on them? We explain the rules so you don't get caught out.

Can I be fined for using the hard shoulder?

Driving on the hard shoulder illegally could result in a fine of £100 and three points on your driving licence.

The penalty could be higher if you cause an accident though.

You could be charged with careless driving in the worst case, and that could come with a £5,000 fine, up to nine penalty points and even a driving ban.

When am I allowed drive on the hard shoulder?

The hard shoulder is designed to be used in emergencies, like if your car breaks down.

It means that a vehicle isn't sat in the middle of busy and fast-moving traffic on the motorway, which would be dangerous for all drivers.

You should never drive on the hard shoulder, unless directed to by road signs or police, for instance, if another lane of traffic is closed because of an accident or roadworks.

Emergency services are the only vehicles that are allowed to drive on the hard shoulder.

The only exception to driving on the hard shoulder is if you're on a "smart" motorway.

Smart motorways do not have hard shoulders, and so you can drive on the outermost lane.

The RAC advises that there will be signs indicating if you are allowed to drive on the hard shoulder, but if you’re unsure then you should not use it.

Can I pull over on the hard shoulder?

You are allowed to pull over onto the hard shoulder – but only in certain circumstances.

As we've explained, this part of the road is only for emergencies, so if you pull over for a trivial reason, you could be on the wrong side of the law.

You should not pull over to use your phone or to go to the toilet as these are unlikely to be considered an emergency by police.

If you need facilities or to make a call, you should come off the motorway at the nearest junction or service station.

If you are having car troubles and can't make it to a car garage or a safe space off the motorway you are allowed to use the hard shoulder.

You can also use it if you suffer a medical emergency, or if you are guided by police to pull over.

When you pull over you should use your hazard lights and get out of the car using the door on the left and wait on the other side of the motorway barrier.

You should do this away from the car as it can be incredibly dangerous on the hard shoulder

If you need to walk to an emergency SOS phone located on the hard shoulder you should always walk towards oncoming traffic, rather than having your back to it.

This means you can see what's coming ahead and if there is any danger.

How to use the hard shoulder safely


  • Pull over safely on the hard shoulder in an emergency, such as a breakdown or medical episode
  • Turn on hazard warning lights and side lights to alert other drivers
  • Use left-hand doors if you need to exit the vehicle
  • Keep your children and pets inside the car
  • Proceed with extreme caution if you need to use the emergency phone on the hard shoulder


  • Don't use the hard shoulder to get ahead of traffic and skip queues
  • Don't stop on the hard shoulder to go to the toilet or use your mobile
  • Don't pull over if passengers have travel sickness or you need to rest


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