Drivers are being urged to check their fuel levels on motorways like the M62 before setting out on journeys.

The warning came after figures revealed that an average of one driver a day is running out of fuel on the “smart” motorway network between Manchester and Huddersfield.

In the past 12 months, 354 drivers have let their tanks run dry on the 17-mile route between junction 8 of the M60 near Sale and junction 20 of the M62 near Rochdale, which Highways England is upgrading to a smart motorway.

Electronic message signs are being used at key points on the motorway to remind people to fill up, and drivers are being advised that there are petrol stations within half a mile of most motorway junctions as well as at Birch Services.

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Highways England has also released CCTV footage showing a driver running out of fuel on the M60 between junctions 15 and 16 near Salford to show the impact it can have on other drivers.

Highways England Programme Manager Stephen Hill said: “Running out of fuel is the easiest cause of breakdown to avoid and some simple planning can save drivers the hassle of coming to a halt on the motorway, causing disruption to hundreds of other drivers.

“We’re asking all drivers to help us reduce the number of incidents within the roadworks section by checking their fuel when there is still an opportunity to top up, and checking their vehicle is roadworthy.

“Sitting at the head of a queue of unhappy drivers while you wait to be rescued is not an experience that people wish to repeat.”

Video thumbnail, Fuel breakdown on M62 1
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Since March 2015, there have been 4,694 breakdowns on the smart motorway route around Manchester. Alongside the usual electrical and mechanical failures, the free recovery service also attended 24 cases of wrong fuel.

The £202m smart motorway project will see the latest technology being used to monitor traffic levels and keep vehicles moving by using variable speed limits. The hard shoulder is also being permanently converted into an extra lane to increase capacity between junctions 18 and 20 on the M62.

The stretch from Brighouse to Leeds is already up and running and there are plans to work on the trans-Pennine stretch above Huddersfield.

When the smart motorway scheme is completed, around 200 new electronic message signs on overhead gantries will warn drivers of changes in the mandatory speed limit, lane closures and incidents ahead.