Safer driving on motorways

Highways England motorways

Whatever part of England’s motorway network you’re using, we want you to stay safe, follow the signs and keep us all moving.

England’s motorways connect people to families and friends, workers to jobs and businesses to their customers, which helps our nation thrive.

We want all drivers to have a safer, smoother journey.

How you can help:

England’s motorways are changing

We use technology to monitor and manage the flow of traffic. The technology is controlled from regional control centres which can activate and change signs and variable speed limits. This helps keep the traffic flowing so that you have a safer, more reliable journey.

These technology-enabled sections of motorways have enhancements such as electronic message signs that display red X signals and variable speed limits; sensors to monitor traffic volumes; CCTV cameras and emergency areas, with emergency roadside telephones.

Using the hard shoulder as an extra lane, rather than building a new one, also reduces the impact on the natural environment. And better traffic flow means less impact on air quality from stationary or slow moving vehicles.

We are continuing to make changes to the design of motorways that use the hard shoulder as an extra lane, such as making emergency areas more visible, and for future schemes reducing the spacing to one mile.

Know what to do in a breakdown

Breaking down on a motorway

Knowing what to do in an emergency or a breakdown is key to keeping yourself and others safe.

If your vehicle has a problem, stay calm and try and exit at the next junction or service area. If that’s not possible, where you can, get left, get visible, get safe and get help.


If there is a hard shoulder on a motorway, you can use it to stop in an emergency only. If you can, get behind the safety barrier and away from your vehicle and moving traffic. Use the free SOS phone or call Highways England on 0300 123 5000 for help. Why not save the number in your phone now in case you ever need it?

Do not put out a warning triangle in any circumstances.

All motorists should be able to make their own recovery arrangements in the event of a breakdown. We advise you to carry details of your provider with you.

Remember, most breakdowns are avoidable and simple vehicle checks can help you have a safer journey. Check your tyres, fuel, oil and water. However, if your vehicle appears to have problems or is damaged, always try to exit the motorway.

Read more about hard shoulder use and emergency areas

How technology on our motorways is helping disabled drivers

Disabled Motoring UK Chairman Alan Norton talks about how motorway technology is helping disabled drivers and shares his advice on what to do in a breakdown situation.

Don’t ignore the red X

Read our guidance about what to do if you see a red X
Know what to do when you see a red X
View our Red X leaflet

Variable speed, steady progress

Find out more about variable speed limits

Keeping left is right