MOTORISTS could face being slapped with a £5,000 fine and nine points on their licence due to this little known fuel rule.
North West Motorway Police posted a picture of the stationary car in a live lane of the smart motorway on April 23.
Smart motorways were introduced by the Highways Agency, now called Highways England, in order to use traffic management methods to increase capacity and reduce congestion, particularly in busy areas.
Methods such as using the hard shoulder as a running lane and variable speed limits to control the flow of traffic can help with the environmental impact, lessening the need to build additional lanes.
In this incident the car was obstructing other lanes.
The force said in a Facebook post: “Driver ran out of fuel on M60 in live lane, couldn’t see the danger in running out of fuel on motorway – TOR issued by ME54.”
TOR means a Traffic Offence Report.
The post drew hundreds of comments with many saying they were unaware of the rule.
Simply running out of fuel does not in itself warrant a TOR but officers can issue them if there are potentially dangerous implications caused by the stationary vehicle.
A TOR can either be a monetary fine or points on the driver’s licence.
This is because motorists can be charged with careless driving, which is punishable by law.
Running out of fuel on a busy road could cause a collision or create a hazard for other road users.
Causing an obstruction on the road due to breaking down caused by an empty tank could see drivers given a £100 penalty and three points on their licence.
If though a broken down car, due to running out of fuel, causes a crash, nine points could be added with an unlimited fine given, depending on the severity of the incident.
In this situation, fines usually run up to around £5,000.
INSURANCE COMPANIES UNLIKELY TO PAY OUT
To add to the driver’s troubles, car insurers are unlikely to provide cover for collisions caused by running out of fuel.
That means insurance companies are unlikely to pay out, leaving the motorist to fork out for sizeable repair bills.
The Facebook post by the cops drew 2,000 comments and 1,000 reactions with many seemingly surprised to learn about the rule.
One person said: “Nice to know that when we were running on fumes trying to get fuel during the crisis that we should worry about a fine as well as being stranded.”
Another posted: “It says the driver didn’t see the danger in running out of fuel, so maybe he was getting lippy in which case he deserved a ticket.”
SYMPATHY EXPRESSED FOR THE DRIVER
Many people expressed sympathy for the driver, with one commentator saying: “Not everyone who runs out of fuel is stupid, lazy or a bad person. Sometimes good people find themselves in a difficult situation. Those who have criticised this driver are perfect citizens I guess, having never made a mistake or found themselves in a difficult situation.”
Others, though, took issue with Smart Motorways, saying they were the real danger, where the hard shoulder is removed to ease traffic.
One person wrote: “Would be safer for everyone if the motorway had a hard shoulder.”
SMART MOTORWAYS ‘UNSAFE’
Another said: “Perhaps if highways realise how unsafe these smart motorways are then this individual would have had a proper hard shoulder to pull onto, no doubting it’s an offence to run out of fuel on a motorway but the powers that be are making our roads the worst they have ever been.”
Controversy was sparked earlier this month after a driver was given a £417 fine for “careless driving” after they drove “too closely” to a group of cyclists at “excessive speed”.
Footage shows the driver of the silver motor appearing to cross the white dividing road marks as the cyclists – who were riding in single file – overtake a parked car.
The vehicle then rockets past the cyclists at speed – leaving inches to spare between it and one of the bikes.
Sharing the footage on social media, Sheffield North West Neighbourhood Policing Team warned: “If anyone thinks this is an acceptable manner of driving, let this be your warning.”
Drivers were also warned earlier this month about wearing certain types of clothing while behind the wheel.
They could be landed with a £5,000 fine for simply wearing everyday items of clothing such as baggy jeans and even long dresses.
Wearing these “inappropriate” items while driving could land you with a £100 fine.
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