Carolyn McEwan and Keith Wansbrough, of Falkirk, were driving home from a pantomime with their two children last December when they spotted a man walking on the Edinburgh City Bypass.
When they slowed to warn him to get off the road, the individual told them: “I want someone to kill me.”
Realising they could not leave him alone, the pair drove behind him at walking pace on the dual carriageway - with vehicles swerving to dodge their car at the last minute - until the police were able to get to the scene.
The married couple, and the road policing sergeant who attended, have now been honoured for their bravery by Police Scotland.
Ms McEwan, 43, a co-ordinator with a children’s charity, said the incident happened at around 9pm near where the road, the A720, meets the M8.
She said: “We came off the roundabout to join the motorway and we spotted a person walking down the middle of the road. We assumed he was drunk initially. Keith was driving and he slowed down and pulled up alongside him.
“I put my window down and said to him, ‘You need to get off the road’. He glanced round at me and said, ‘I don’t care, I want someone to kill me’. He was walking very steadily and I realised that he was serious about this.
“Keith dropped back behind him and put the hazard lights on and we basically trailed behind him at walking speed and I phoned the emergency services.”
The couple said the incident, in which cars and HGVs were only able to spot them at the last minute, was “really quite scary” and described it as “the longest 20 minutes of our lives”.
Software engineer Mr Wansbrough, 42, said: “If we weren’t there, one (vehicle) would have hit that guy and it would have killed or seriously injured him. We couldn’t just go on knowing that would happen to someone else. We were there and we did what we had to do.”
His partner added: “We were completely conscious all it would take was one person not to see us. And we were very aware of the fact that our children (aged 10 and 12 at the time) were in the back of the car - our lives at risk and their lives at risk.”
The pair, who have had no contact since with the man they helped, found out about the bravery award “out of the blue” last month and admit they are still “blown away” to be recognised in such a way.
Mr Wansbrough added: “We just did what we had to do, so in a sense it feels odd to be getting the award.”