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An Emergency Refuge Area is an area

A on a motorway for use in cases of emergency or breakdown

Emergency Refuge Areas may be found at the side of the hard shoulder about 500 meters apart. If you break down you should use them rather than the hard shoulder if you are able. When re-joining the motorway you must remember to take extra care especially when the hard shoulder is being used as a running lane within an Active Traffic Management area. Try to match your speed to that of traffic in the lane you are joining.