Ten of the lamest excuses given to traffic officers by drivers stopping illegally on the hard shoulder of motorways have been released by the Highways Agency.

In one case a driver thought the ‘fire’ notification on their dashboard display signalled there was a blaze– whereas it was actually the name of the Adele track they were listening to.

In another example two wheeler-dealers stopped to haggle over a car sale, while in a third someone stopped to pick flowers despite it being illegal to stop on a hard shoulder if there is no emergency.

Ten of the most inappropriate reasons given to traffic officers by drivers who have stopped unlawfully:

  • One motorist pulled over because they saw ‘fire” on their dashboard display, and did not realise it was the name of the Adele track they were listening to.
  • One motorist parked up and fell asleep on the M6.
  • People stopping to read a map or check their sat-navs.
  • Traffic officers stopped with two cars on the hard shoulder – the owners were halfway through the selling and buying process for one of the cars.
  • One driver realised their car insurance policy was up for renewal – they were ringing around for quotes to renew.
  • Parents feeding children.
  • Taxi drivers waiting on the hard shoulder around Heathrow airport for their client's flights to arrive.
  • A mobile phone operator, stopping at regular intervals in their private car carrying out signal tests on the hard shoulder.
  • A driver who stopped to pick flowers.
  • Have you broken down Sir? No, came the reply, we are taking pictures of our newborn grandchild (in their open top sports car) as it is a lovely day.

Between July and September last year 234 drivers in the south east stopped on the hard shoulder when there was no emergency.

Today the Highways Agency is urging motorists to drive within the law – including not driving illegally under a red X sign which is displayed when the lane ahead is closed.

The red X is part of an initiative to make motorways ‘smarter’ by upgrading the most congested sections.

A smart motorway is a section of motorway with additional technology to actively manage traffic to improve journeys. Smart motorways tell drivers what speed to drive at, when the hard shoulder is open to traffic and when lanes are closed by showing a red X.

Jamie Hassall, Highways Agency national enforcement co-ordinator, said: “Every day, millions of people use our motorways. Most of them use the hard shoulder correctly and don’t ignore red Xs, but we are appealing to the few who put themselves, other road users, and those working on motorways, at risk.

“Where the hard shoulder is used as an additional traffic lane at peak times, you can only drive on it if there is a speed limit over it. When a red X is displayed over any lane, it’s simple – don’t drive on it.”

For more information on safe summer driving and smart motorways visit www.highways.gov.uk/summer