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Motorway driving tips: 5 ways to avoid fines, accidents and delays

Our guide to staying safe, legal and courteous on the UK motorway system

Safe driving helps traffic on the motorway to flow better - and keeps you on the right side of the law

Safe driving helps traffic on the motorway to flow better - and keeps you on the right side of the law

With the news that the police will soon have the power to issue on-the-spot fines and penalty points to drivers who hog the middle lane on the motorway, we run through a guide to motorway driving, to ensure your motorway journeys are efficient and, above all, safe.

For many drivers, motorways are a daunting place, with millions of UK drivers avoiding them altogether in favor of quieter B roads and dual carriageways. Contrary to popular belief though, motorways are statistically proven to be the safest type of roads – providing you follow the rules and regulations.

1. Match your speed when joining a motorway

The key to joining a motorway is to avoid interfering with traffic already traveling on the motorway. As you accelerate up the slip road, match your speed to the vehicles in the first lane, making sure you follow the proper ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre‘ procedure.

2. Be aware of speed limits

For car drivers, the national speed limit on a motorway is 70 mph, unless otherwise stated. Breaking the speed limit will likely draw the attention of the police and increase the dangers of motorway driving for you and other road users.

3. Overtake correctly

Once you have joined the motorway, it’s important that you remain in the left-hand lane unless you’re overtaking slower moving traffic. Ensure you follow the proper ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’ procedure when moving in and out of lanes. Avoid sitting in middle or outside lanes unless you are overtaking.

4. Time your exit properly

Keep an eye out for the junction signs, which let you know which junction number you need to take to reach your destination. Move into the first lane as you get closer. When you’re 300 yards away from a junction, the 3 line countdown markers start, and are repeated again at 200 yards and 100 yards. Signal left at the 300 marker to inform other drivers of your intention. It is important that you only decrease your speed when you turn off the motorway and into the deceleration lane, in order to keep the flow of traffic moving.

5. Remember these top tips if you break down

  • Move as far into the hard shoulder as soon as possible and switch on your hazard lights.

  • Call for help using the orange emergency phone at the side of the motorway. By using these phones, the Highway Agency will be able to pinpoint your location. Follow the arrows at the side of the road to find the nearest phone. Alternatively, use your mobile phone, giving as much detail as possible.

  • The biggest danger associated with breaking down on the motorway is being hit by other moving traffic. Leave your car and wait on the verge until help arrives.

More Motorway Driving Tips

  • Pay attention to overhead gantries – they often display useful information about upcoming traffic incidents, as well as temporarily reduced speed limits that must be obeyed.
  • Follow the 2 second rule to ensure there is enough space between you and the car in front.
  • Take extra care when passing lorries and other large vehicles, which often move slower and have larger blind spots.
  • Scan the road ahead, looking for potential hazards.
  • If you're covering a long distance, take a 15-minute break every 2 hours.

Next steps

  • Consider taking a Pass Plus course with an approved driving instructor to improve your driving ability and reduce your insurance premiums.

  • Practice makes perfect – the more time your spend on the motorway, the easier it will be. Consider driving on the motorway at quieter times to get a feel for it.

  • If you do a lot of motorway driving, consider a car that delivers a high MPG for greater fuel efficiency.

About the Author

Jonathan Munton

Staff writer at Arnold Clark

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