The hard shoulder on Smart motorways is being given the cold shoulder by the majority of motorists, according to a new survey by KwikFit.

73% of drivers avoided the hard shoulder when it was open as a lane on a Smart motorway, with concerns that there may be a stationery vehicle ahead being the primary reason why, the survey found.

That is an increase from 56% when the same question was asked by KwikFit in 2019.

30% of drivers said they didn’t use the hard shoulder because they felt that smart motorways were simply not safe, and used them as if they were a normal motorway. 19% of responders to the survey cited the lack of a left hand lane as a reason for concern, and 15% were worried about debris on the hard shoulder.

A five-year pause was announced by the government last month in its plan to introduce new Smart motorways, in order to address safety measures.

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said: “Smart motorways have been a huge topic of debate and it is absolutely correct for the Government to pause their development to both gather data and ensure that the UK’s motorways are as safe as possible.

“It is clear that many drivers are yet to be convinced about the safety of smart motorways and therefore there must be clear transparency about all the data being gathered and the evidence on which future decisions are based”, said Griggs.

Smart motorways were introduced in the UK in 2006 as a traffic management initiative in an effort to increase capacity and reduce congestion at peak times on motorways. Opening the hard shoulder as a running lane and operating variable speed limits are two of the principal methods used to increase the flow of traffic.