Drivers have been warned not to use the hard shoulder as a “naughty step” after a child was spotted walking on the side of a motorway.
News of the incident emerged as Highways England released a list of the strangest reasons police have found people stopped on the motorway hard shoulder.
Officers said they found the child on the M4 near Bristol being given a “time out” by his parents for misbehaving in the car.
Other excuses motorists had given officers for stopping inappropriately on the hard shoulder included one family who were found cooking a meal by the motorway, and a taxi passenger who got out to urinate next to speeding traffic.
Another woman was found sitting in her car on the hard shoulder eating a pie, while officers came across an LGV driver asleep in his vehicle on the verge of the M60, blocking an emergency access route.
Highways England warned drivers about the dangers of stopping unnecessarily on the hard shoulder.
Simon Jones, regional director south east of Highways England, said: “Drivers often think the hard shoulder is a safe place to stop but over 100 people are killed or injured on the hard shoulder every year.
“We don’t want you to become one of those statistics; we want you to stay safe.”
He suggested drivers checked their vehicles before setting off on long journeys, and advised people not to stop on the hard shoulder ”except in an emergency”.
The agency set out a list of steps drivers should take when forced to make an emergency stop on the motorway.
It said: “Use an emergency area if you are able to reach one safely. These are marked with blue signs featuring an orange SOS telephone symbol on them.
“If you can leave your vehicle safely, contact Highways England via the roadside emergency telephone provided in all emergency areas. We will either send a traffic officer to help you, or set the motorway signs to temporarily clear lane one to assist you to rejoin the motorway.
“If you cannot get to an emergency area but the vehicle can be driven, move it to the hard shoulder (where provided) or as close to the nearside verge or other nearside boundary as possible.If you cannot get to an emergency area but the vehicle can be driven, move it to the hard shoulder (where provided) or as close to the nearside verge or other nearside boundary as possible.
“In all cases, switch on your hazard warning lights.”