Many people have seen Soft Shoulder signs before and may be confused about what they mean. The purpose of the soft shoulder sign is to warn road users that the berm up ahead of them is made up of softer materials than what they are used to driving on, such as gravel or dirt. It is also often at a lower level than the actual roadway surface. It is not safe to drive on a soft shoulder, so it is best to wait until the road is clear before attempting to do so.
In addition to their softer material, the main reason that a soft shoulder is a hazard is that it is usually much less stable than the actual road surface. Therefore, if a vehicle travels down the berm too fast, it could end up overturning or sliding. This can be dangerous for both drivers and any passengers inside the car, as well as any other motorists who are still in the traffic flow.
As a result, it is always better to stay away from a soft shoulder as much as possible, unless you need to stop in the area for some reason. If you are in this situation, be sure to check behind you regularly for any other vehicles that may be approaching. Also, be sure to use your turn signal before merging back onto the actual roadway when it is safe to do so. The last thing that you want is to be stuck down in a ditch on the side of the road and require assistance from other motorists.