No matter how long you may have been behind the wheel, it’s likely that motorway driving can still make you nervous. In fact, it’s amongst one of the most common driving fears but you may be surprised to know that it’s one of the safest places we could drive.
Motorway driving accounts for just 3% of all road accidents so there’s no need to panic when taking to the motorway. However, understandably, that doesn’t take away the anxiety that many new drivers face when they drive on one for the very first time.
In this guide, we’ve shared some easy tips to help you to become more confident on the motorway and ensure that you’re as safe as possible, at all times.
What are the rules for motorway driving?
As stated in The Highway Code, you must not exceed 70mph when driving on the motorway.
However, you should always look out for signs that display a new speed limit and never exceed this. The speed limit on your motorway may change if there are road works, an incident blocking a lane or an accident further down the motorway.
You should also drive in the left-hand lane unless overtaking and do not drive in the hard shoulder lane unless the signs above it displays that you can.
Tips for driving on the motorway
Whilst the motorway can be intimidating for any driver, the following tips can help new drivers to drive safely and be confident on the road:
Always be wary
Similar to normal roads, you always have to be aware of your surroundings when you’re driving on the motorway for the first time.
Use your mirrors and constantly be aware of the vehicles around you. Look for people overtaking you, driving behind you and see if any cars are joining the motorway from the slip road.
Build speed on the slip road
When you begin to enter the motorway, you should use the slip road as an opportunity to build up speed. Once you’ve reached a similar speed to the vehicles already on the motorway, indicate and find a sizeable space to join the road safely.
Whilst there is no minimum speed limit for driving on the motorway, you should try and stick to a speed that doesn’t affect the flow of traffic too severely.
Leave safe distances
When you’re driving on the motorway for the first time, allow plenty of space between your vehicle and those around you. This helps to protect yourself if the car in front of you moves suddenly, as well as giving yourself time to brake or react to their movement.
Generally, you should leave a two-second gap behind the car you’re following on the motorway. If the weather or visibility conditions are poor, you should double this and leave a four-second gap. If you’re driving in the snow or ice, leave a gap of at least 10 seconds.
Some motorways have chevrons painted onto the road that will indicate a safe distance for that stretch of road. Further details for these will be displayed along the route, although the minimum distance is two chevrons.
Allow time to overtake
Although many drivers stick to the left lane when they’re driving on the motorway for the first time to build up confidence, you may find yourself in the situation where you’re wanting to overtake another vehicle.
You can safely overtake on the motorway by indicating before you change lane and leave plenty of time (and space!) between the lane changes.
If you’re overtaking a truck, avoid pulling back into the lane too quickly as they have a blind spot towards their lower-right corner and may not see you re-entering the lane.
As you can see, motorway driving for beginners doesn’t have to be daunting task where you feel unsafe. Remember to take your driving in steps that are comfortable for you and don’t rush into driving on the motorway if you don’t feel ready.