A new campaign designed to encourage drivers to ‘go left’ if they break down on the motorway has been launched by Highways England.
The campaign is part of an effort to improve safety on smart motorways following a government review by last year.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps has called on Highways England “to deliver the campaign to improve safety and public confidence on smart motorways.”
The campaign, which features the Pet Shop Boys’ cover of the song Go West, reminds drivers that they should pull into the hard shoulder if their vehicle has mechanical difficulties, or if on a smart motorway to pull into the nearest emergency refuge area.
Speaking about the campaign, Highways England acting chief executive, Nick Harris, said: “No one plans to break down on a motorway, but if the unexpected happens then I want all motorists to know what to do so that they can keep themselves and others safe.
“Everyone wants a safe journey and raising awareness is a vital part of helping to make sure that happens.”
Following years of criticism about smart motorways, the ‘go left’ campaign is part of an 18-point action plan announced by the Department for Transport.
Campaigners have referred to smart motorways as ‘death traps’ and one coroner said they “present an ongoing risk of future deaths.”
In 2019, there were more than 207,000 reported breakdowns on England’s motorways. In the 12 months from June 2019, common reasons for vehicle breakdowns were tyre issues (40,000) and running out of fuel (6,000).
President of the AA, Edmund King OBE, said: “As motorway design has changed since many of us passed our test, it is vital to inform drivers what they should do in rare but worse-case scenarios.”
He continued: “Some breakdowns can be avoided completely, so drivers should take five minutes before setting off to ensure their tyres are inflated correctly, that they have enough fuel or electric charge and engine fluids are topped up.”