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  • 20 May 2016

    New Drivers: 11 Motorway Safety Tips

    If you’ve recently passed your driving test, but you’re yet to put your driving skills to the test on the motorway then don’t worry - we’ve got some driving tips to help you get confident and feel safe on the motorway.

    Driving on the motorway can be overwhelming for new drivers, as it’s not something that's included in the learning stages. It provides a very different driving environment compared to your quiet country lanes and town roads, but once you get used to motorway driving you’ll feel confident in no time.

    Take a look at our helpful tips below!

    Tips for motorway driving:


    1. Take someone with you

    Your first time can be daunting, so we suggest you take a confident driver with you for advice and reassurance when you take your first trip on the motorway. If a family member has helped you in practice sessions, they would probably be the best person to take as they would be use to your driving capabilities.  Alternatively, we would advise having a lesson with a teacher or taking a pass plus course.


    2. Join the motorway at the correct speed

    When joining the motorway from the slip road, it's important to match up with the speed of the cars already driving on the motorway. On the slip road you should accelerate and follow the ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’ procedure. Usually, the traffic will move to make space for you so you can enter the motorway, but always be prepared to slow down a bit.


    3. Know your lanes

    On the motor way, slow-moving or speed restricted vehicles should always remain in the left hand lane of the carriageway unless overtaking. If you're in a car the aim is to stay as far left as possible however at busy times, the far left lane will be filled with HGV’s who have restricted speed limits. Because of this you will need to use the middle and far right lanes for overtaking, but if the motorway is quiet you should always stick to using the left lane.

    You must not drive in the hard shoulder except in an emergency or if the police direct you to do so.


    4. Overtake correctly

    Once you’ve joined, you should aim to stay in the left hand lane unless you're overtaking another vehicle. When you do decide to overtake, perform the ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’ procedure to let other drivers know what your move is. You should avoid ‘lane hogging’ in the middle and far right lanes.

    TOP TIP: Look out for lorries changing lanes as they have much larger blind spot then you!


    5. Watch the speed limit

    The national speed limit on a motorway is 70mph for car drivers, but some areas may indicate a lower speed is necessary if there are roadworks present. If you see a new speed limit, you’ll need to respond and slow down. You should always stick to speed limit, as breaking it is both dangerous and legal so don’t go over the 70mph limit.


    6. Take advantage of your mirrors

    Your 3 mirrors play a major role in motorway driving. Before you set off double check that they are clean and positioned correctly because you’ll be using them when joining the motorway and each time you change lanes.

    TOP TIP : Don't forget to check blind spots - you can never be too careful on the motorway.


    7. Keep a distance

    Always keep enough space between you and the driver in front because at high speeds, you need to allow for more stopping distance. The 2 second rule applies perfectly for motorway driving and ensures there is enough room between you and the car in front. Simply choose a fixed point such as a bridge or light. When the car ahead passes it count to 2 and as you finish you should also be at the fixed point.


    8. Don’t forget to take breaks

    If your first motorway journey is a long one, you mustn't forget to take a break from the road. Being tired can reduce your response time and potentially cause an accident. It’s recommended that you take at least one 15 minute break for every 2 hours of driving.


    9. Use your hazards

    If a situation occurs where you're, approaching non moving traffic, a hazard or obstruction is coming your way or you need to break sharply, turn on your hazards to warn the cars driving behind you that they should also slow down.


    10. Exit the motorway correctly

    When approaching an exit ahead keep a look out for junction signs; these will let you know how far away your exit junction is. When you get close to your desired exit, move into the left lane. When you’re 300 yards away there will be a 3 line countdown with markers indicating when your 300, 200 and 100 yards away from the exit. You should signal at the 300 yard marker to let other vehicles around you know what your intention is. You should always maintain your speed when exiting, and only slow down once you’ve turned off the motorway in order to keep the traffic flow moving.


    11. In the event of a breakdown

    The largest risk of breaking down on a motorway is getting hit by other traffic. To reduce accident risks if you break down, move onto the hard shoulder and switch your hazards on immediately. Once you're in a safe position on the hard shoulder, use your phone or one of the emergency phones at the edge of the motorway. These phones are numbered and will tell the highway exactly where you’re located. After help has been contacted, you should wait for it to arrive in your car.


    We hope the above motorway driving tips help, and we wish you the best of luck for your first motorway journey!

Howards Garages (Weston) Ltd is an Appointed Representative of Automotive Compliance Ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA No 497010). Automotive Compliance Ltd's permissions as a Principal Firm allows Howards Garages (Weston) Ltd to act as a credit broker, not as lender, for the introduction to a limited number of finance providers and to act as an agent on behalf of the insurer for insurance mediation activities only.