Motorway driving tips
So, you’ve passed your test and you’re ready to drive wherever you want to – but does the thought of driving on a motorway for the first time fill you dread? Currently, learner drivers can’t go on the motorway (though that is set to change in June 2018), so it can be a scary thought heading onto one. Once you’ve got some practise, driving on the motorway will be second nature, but there are a few rules and tips that you should know first, which is why we’ve put together these handy tips.
Some motorways can have up to 5 lines on each side of the central reservation, which can be daunting at first. Follow the rule that you should stick to the inside lane, and use the others to overtake, and you’ll be just fine. Be sure to pull back in to the inside lane to avoid blocking the outside lanes – remember, lane-hogging is a big driving no-no and could see you fined up to £100.
- Slip roads
When entering a motorway, speed up on the slip road to meet the speed of the traffic in the inside lane, then attempt to slot in between the traffic in that lane. Cars will often move into the second lane in order to let you in – however, they don’t have to, as it is their right of way. Try to avoid stopping at the end of the slip road if you can, as you will struggle to get back up to the speed of the traffic – if you can’t get on, try to slow down and only stop if you need to.
- Service stations
On some major motorways, service stations can be spread out, so make sure that you have plenty of fuel before entering the motorway. Also, fuel on the motorway is usually more expensive, due to less availability, so avoid filling up there if you can.
When overtaking, make sure you signal as you normally would. Once you have overtaken, be sure to move back over into the inside lane if it’s clear to avoid blocking up the lanes. You may need to move into the outside lanes to overtake slow-moving vehicles – but make sure to move back to the inside lane in time to come off at a junction, which means planning ahead and knowing your exit. If you miss it, you’ll have to wait for the next one and navigate from there.
- Breaking down
If you break down on a motorway, you must try to get your car into the hard shoulder, which is the space beside the inside lane. Make sure your hazard warning lights are on, but don’t use a warning triangle – these aren’t advised for use on the hard shoulder. Once you’re here, you should get out of the car (always use the left hand side, away from the road) and stand as far away from the car as possible, well away from the flow of traffic. You should call for assistance immediately. If you’ve not got a mobile on you, walk to find the nearest emergency telephone – these are spread along the motorway at one-mile intervals and are bright orange in colour. You can also navigate yourself towards them using the arrows on posts on the hard shoulder – which following these, making sure to walk facing oncoming traffic. After this, return to your vehicle and wait for assistance – once the problem is fixed, make sure to re-join the motorway with care.
- Lorries and other large vehicles
Many lorries, and often some vans and livestock transportation vehicles have restricted speed – often of 56 mph. This means that they are slow when trying to overtake one another, which may mean you’ll need to move into the outside lane to pass safely. Make sure you allow both vehicles plenty of room before pulling back into the inside lane, as the stopping distance of a lorry is longer than of smaller vehicles.
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