Safe motorway driving tips

Driving on the motorway can be frightening. There are lots of things on the road and they’re all travelling at high speed. But, they’re incredibly convenient and there are lots of safe motorway driving tips you can follow to make sure you stay safe on the road. 

You still have to abide by all the normal rules of the road when you’re on the motorway. But, as things are moving much faster and there are typically fewer distractions, there are some key tips you should follow to stay safe. 

Watch your speed

It’s illegal to drive more than the 70mph speed limit on the motorway. If you’re nervous or are getting tired, it’s easy to see that speedometer creeping up past the limit and you’re putting yourself and others at risk. 

You also don’t want to be overly cautious and drive slowly on the motorway. That can cause problems for other drivers and might encourage them to act dangerously to get round you. If you’re nervous travelling at high speeds, you can take special motorway driving lessons to help you build up your confidence. 

Use your mirrors 

Mirrors are your best friends on the motorway. It’s important that you know what’s going on all around you on the road because there are many slip roads and lanes to content with. Keep a careful watch on what’s happening behind you as well as on the road ahead. 

cars adhering to safe motorway driving tips

Leave a safe distance 

You want to make sure there’s a reasonable distance between you and the driver in front. Generally, that’s about 2 seconds to give you time to react to any hazard that appears. Extend that distance to 4 seconds if visibility is poor or the road is wet.

If you feel like the car behind you isn’t leaving enough space, move over to the left and allow them to pass when it is safe to do so. Don’t be tempted to increase your speed over the limit to try and lose them. 

Overtaking 

You should always keep as far left as possible when you’re driving on the motorway. If you have to overtake a slower vehicle in front of you, check carefully that there’s nothing in the lane to your right and pull out. Once you’ve overtaken the slower vehicle and there’s a 2 second gap between you, pull back into the left hand lane. 

Make sure you have plenty of space before overtaking. Manoeuvring in short distances can cause stress to other drivers and doesn’t leave you with enough reaction time if you’re forced to break. Use your indicators when you’re pulling out and when you’re moving back in to let other road users know what you’re doing. 

Know your studs 

If you’re driving at night, the coloured studs on the motorway will help you drive safely:

  • Red studs separate the road from the hard shoulder
  • Amber studs show the central reservation 
  • White studs are your lane markers
  • Green studs show the slip road division

Try not to flash your lights 

Flashing your lights can be misleading and if you or another driver misinterprets the meaning, an accident can occur. If you want to move lanes, don’t simply trust the flash from another road user. Check your mirrors and blind spots before pulling out. 

night time motorway driving

Joining the motorway 

Always give priority to users of the motorway as you try to join. Check your blind spots and use your mirrors to make sure it’s safe to move from the slip road onto the main carriageway before you move across. Use the slip road to build up speed so you don’t cause a hazard to other drivers. 

Correctly use slip roads 

Motorway slip roads are the biggest hazard as there’s a lot you need to think about as you exit. Prepare your exit in advance, moving over into the left hand lane early and matching the speed of the vehicles. Don’t charge ahead and be forced to nip across in front of other drivers, this is extremely dangerous.

Often, you’ll need to amend your speed after exiting the motorway to comply with a new limit. However, make sure you do this as you exit, rather than on the motorway, as harsh breaking can be a hazard to the motorway users behind you. 

Take a rest if you’re tired 

Motorways are long and monotonous. It’s here that you’re most likely to feel the effects of driver fatigue. You can learn more about this in our handy article

Keep distractions to a minimum 

You need to be aware of everything that’s happening on the road, not the children bickering in the back or replying to a text message. Make sure you keep any in car distraction to a minimum so you can focus on the drive. 

To sum up 

There is a lot to think about when you’re on the motorway. Following these motorway driving tips will help you stay safe while travelling at high speeds. While you build up confidence, it’s also a great idea to have a more experienced driver in the vehicle with you to offer advice as you drive. 

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