M5 driver who used hard shoulder to avoid traffic caught by police

A driver who tried to evade M5 queues by using the hard shoulder was caught out by police - who were filming from an unmarked HGV.

The driver of the Renault Capture ended up with a traffic summons after using the hard shoulder to avoid three lanes of stationary traffic.

It is only legal to use the hard shoulder if your vehicle has broken down and you need refuge or if you are in an emergency vehicle attending an incident.

Acting Sergeant Martyn Truscott of Avon and Somerset Police said: "Using it at any other time unless instructed to do so by traffic officers or roadworks signs can land you with a £100 fine and three points on your licence.

"Stopping because a passenger feels unwell or needs the toilet, to use your mobile phone or because you are feeling tired are not acceptable uses for the hard shoulder."

He added: "Department for Transport figures show that more than 100 people are killed or seriously injured each year on motorway hard shoulders in the UK

The incident was one of 240 offences – averaging 24 per day – recorded during Operation Peninsula, a multi-agency fortnight of action on the M5 and M4.

In total, 192 vehicles were stopped by police using the unmarked cabs, including 77 HGVs and 78 private vehicles.

Action taken ranged from words of advice or fixed penalty notices to traffic offences being reported and five arrests.

Sgt Lucy Powell of Gloucestershire Constabulary said: "The vantage point from the cab allows us to detect offences that we might not see from our normal patrol vehicles, particularly with heavy goods vehicles and larger vans.

“Operation Peninsula allowed us to monitor drivers on the M5 in a bid to ensure the roads of Gloucestershire are safe for all – drivers using a phone behind the wheel are four times more likely to be involved in a collision, far less likely to notice and react to hazards, and more likely to show poor lane discipline and make more variable speed choices.”

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency teams also examined 73 vehicles and identified 23 offences.

Four lorries had defective breaks and other serious mechanical issues, 12 were immediately prohibited and eight fixed penalty notices - totalling £1,750 - were issued.

DVSA’s director of enforcement Marian Kitson, said: “As a society we have become increasingly aware of how valuable the haulage industry is. Most operators keep to safety rules and continue to provide a vital service for our country.

“It was disappointing, however, that together with our partner agencies we found serious examples of unsafe vehicles and drivers during this operation.

“DVSA’s guidance is available to all operators and drivers to ensure they are able to supply our country safely."