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Motorway driving and some common sense advice


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Some do's and don'ts to help on motorway driving 

Travelling on the UK's motorways you are likely to come across heavy traffic and high speeds so you need to be alert at all times.

To help you have a safe journey here are some useful points that should help:

 Prepare for your journey.

Check your vehicles oil and water, make sure you have enough fuel or are able to purchase some before you run out.

Ensure your tyres are safe and that all your lights work.

Check your vehicle is roadworthy.  

Stay in the left lane, except when overtaking.

If there are many slower vehicles in the left hand lane it may be safer to stay in the overtaking lane until all the slower vehicles have been passed, then returning to the left hand lane.  

Obey the speed limits. For motorway users the maximum speed limit is 70mph if you are driving a car, motorbike, light goods vehicle not exceeding 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight and buses or coaches under 12m long.

The motorway maximum speed limit is 60mph if travelling in a car towing a caravan or trailer, light goods vehicles exceeding 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight or towing a trailer, buses or coaches over 12m long, HGVs and articulated lorries.

There may be other speed restriction in force on motorways; usually the signs will have yellow flashing lights. Even if speed restrictions are not in force you should always slow down in busy conditions, bad weather or if there has been a road accident.  

If there has been a traffic accident pay attention to your own journey and don't "rubber neck". Many accidents occur due to drivers being pre-occupied with accidents and not fully concentrating on their own driving.  

Traffic on motorways generally travels faster so it is important to look much further ahead and use your mirrors more regularly than you would on normal roads.  

Keep a safe distance. A rough guide in good weather conditions is the two second rule. Watch the vehicle in front past a marker and then count slowly to two ("one second, two seconds"), if you are past the marker before the count of two you are too close.  

Do not overtake on the left or move to a lane on your left to overtake.

In congested conditions, where adjacent lanes of traffic are moving at similar speeds, traffic in left-hand lanes may sometimes be moving faster than traffic to the right. In these conditions you may keep up with the traffic in your lane even if this means passing traffic in the lane to your right.

Do not weave in and out of lanes to overtake.  

If you feel tired take a break at the next service station, or in extreme conditions leave the motorway network and find a safe place to pull over and take a break.  

Drive carefully at roadworks. When passing through roadworks get in the correct lane early and slow down, there will be speed restrictions in place but it may not be safe to drive that fast. Be alert for broken down vehicles, particularly if the hard shoulder is closed. Pay attention to the road ahead and don't be distracted by the roadworks.

Stay in lane unless it is unsafe to do so.  

Do not enter the hard shoulder unless it's an emergency.

If you do break down pull over onto the hard shoulder as far away from the road as possible to safely do so, and turn on your hazard warning lights.

If you break down on the motorway there will be emergency phones every 1500m.

If you need to stop for any other reason like the toilet, map reading or a mobile phone call, wait until you arrive at a service station, do not use the hard shoulder. For further information why not read the Highway Code.

In August in a joint initiative the RAC Foundation, IAM, BSM and Auto Express held National Motorway Month to encourage safer motorway driving. The NOP carried out a survey for National Motorway Month which found a lack of basic motorway safety knowledge amongst motorists. Here are some of its findings: Only 19 percent of motorists were aware of the two second rule, the safe recommended driving distance between vehicles in good driving conditions. 58 percent of motorists thought the gap should be six seconds. Amongst the over 65s only 28 percent have looked at their Highway Code since passing their driving test. 86 percent of motorists agreed that compulsory post-test driving training on motorways would be a good idea.

Approximately 17 percent of drivers take a Pass Plus course once they have passed their driving test; this includes a motorway driving session. New drivers who have undertaken this Pass Plus course can get insurance discount with some insurers. For travel information on the UK's roads visit the highways traffic pages.

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