Motorway driving may seem daunting at first but motorways are actually some of the safest roads in the UK. As motorway driving is not part of the driving test you may feel uncomfortable with driving on the motorway, if this is the case you might consider taking further lessons with an instructor on motorway driving. Here are some tips for safe motorway driving.
- Ensure the car is well maintained, has sufficient fuel and oil, has correct tyre pressures and tyres are in good condition (including spare).
- Plan your route in advance; never look at maps whilst driving.
- Take special care when joining a motorway. You must give way to motorway traffic. Beware of the 'blind spot' factor.
- Observe the speed limits and motorway signals. These warn of dangers ahead, for example an accident, broken down vehicle, poor weather conditions, flooding, slippery road surface etc.
- Always be aware of the cars around you, be prepared for unexpected movement. Concentration and frequent use of mirrors are doubly important on motorways because of higher traffic volumes.
- Use your mirrors and observe lane discipline. Always use the left hand lane where possible, the other lanes are overtaking lanes and should be used as such. Overtake only on the right unless in a queue and always indicate when changing lanes.
- Take extra care when approaching intersections where traffic is joining the motorway and around roadworks.
- Always ensure that there is at least two seconds between you and the car in front. Leave at least four seconds in bad weather. Take care in foggy conditions; slow down and use your lights.
- Take regular breaks at service areas, but never on the hard shoulder - if you feel sleepy, get off the motorway at the first opportunity.
- Pull onto the hard shoulder and put on warning lights. Leave your vehicle from a left hand door. Call for help from an emergency phone and wait on the verge.
If you break down on the motorway indicate left or use the hazard lights, manoeuvre onto the hard shoulder when safe to do so. Turn on your hazard lights to warn traffic. Lock the doors and exit the vehicle using the passenger-side door. Phone for assistance from the free emergency telephones, these are places at roughly 1 mile intervals and the direction of the nearest phone is signposted. After you have made the emergency call return to the vehicle and wait on the verge to avoid hazards from passing traffic. When leaving the hard shoulder, always increase your speed to that of passing vehicles and wait for a long safe gap in the traffic.
If you are alone in your vehicle and an unidentified vehicle pulls up, immediately get into your car and lock the passenger door. It is illegal for anyone to stop on the motorway and offer assistance. Ask anyone that stops to offer assistance to contact the appropriate emergency service, rather than assist personally.