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A guide to motorway drivingBack

This week is half term for some schools so the motorways maybe busier than usual. Daily commuters may find they are having to share the road with less frequent motorway users, so drivers will need to keep their wits about them at all times.

Despite motorways being statistically the safest roads to drive on, with fewer collisions occurring than on other roads, cars are travelling at higher speeds, so when there is a crash it is likely to be more serious. Statistics show that on average one in 50 motorway collisions are fatal as opposed to just one in 70 on other roads.

Smart motorways are also on the increase as Highways England work hard to try to manage the current high volumes of traffic on the UK’s busiest motorways. The company is advising drivers to ensure they learn the rules and signs relating to Smart motorways as they become more commonplace.

Below, Trusted Dealers offers a short guide to motorway driving this half term and beyond.

About Smart motorways

Smart motorways are increasing across the UK and serve as a way for Highways England to better manage traffic without damaging the environment or adding to the cost and time required to build additional motorway lanes. A smart motorway is a section of motorway that installs traffic management methods to increase the volume of traffic passing through whilst minimising congestion. Methods include using the hard shoulder as an additional lane and/or using variable speeds to control the flow of traffic.

Main motorway dangers

Not leaving enough time and space between yourself and the driver in front is one of the most common mistakes drivers can make. With vehicles travelling at high speed it is essential drivers take note of the common two second rule at all times and adhere to it. Using a mobile phone or a device behind the wheel is another common motorway hazard and is against the law. But some other activities we may carry out when behind the wheel are also serious distractions such as re-setting a sat nav or attempting to eat a sandwich, both of which pose a risk to drivers and also those around them.

Motorway manoeuvres

Middle lane hogging is a pet hate amongst drivers but is still a very common occurrence on motorways. If the left hand lane is free, drivers should always stick to this lane unless they are over-taking another vehicle. Changing lanes without properly observing the vehicles around you or forgetting to signal to indicate to another driver you are going to change lanes, are two other common causes of accidents on the motorway. Drivers should plan ahead to avoid making last minute decisions to cut across traffic either to change lanes or to exit the motorway.

Lighter traffic

Quieter motorways can be as hazardous as busier motorways. On a quieter stretch of road, there is less to engage the attention of the driver which can result in a drop in their alertness and concentration, making it easier to miss a developing hazard. On quieter motorways, drivers must remember to be extra vigilant and alert to avoid any accidents.

Top tips for safer motorway driving

  1. Always plan your journey – there should be less room for mistakes if you have a clear idea about when you’re likely to join and leave a motorway.
  2. Drive at a safe speed and adhere to speed limits at all times, they are put in place to help drivers remain safe – you may not always foresee the hazards ahead which is why there are limits.
  3. Pick a safe speed to drive at and stay in the left-hand lane at all times unless you’re overtaking.
  4. Always remember the two second rule – watch the vehicle in front of you go past a signpost or another landmark, then count two seconds out loud. If you go past the same landmark before you’ve finishing speaking, you know you are too close.
  5. In wet weather, double your stopping distance, so leave 4 seconds between yourself and the car in front.
  6. Always be vigil and alert, scan the road ahead to try to spot any developing hazards early before they could affect you.
  7. Check your mirrors regularly, if a vehicle is approaching you from behind too fast, make the necessary manoeuvres to get out of its way. Always check your mirrors and your blind spot and indicate before making any manoeuvres.
  8. Avoid any distractions such as checking a mobile phone, changing music on the stereo or fiddling with a sat nav. If you have passengers in the car, let them do all this for you. Save your eating and drinking until you reach a service station so you can dedicate 100% of your attention to the wheel.
  9. Never make any last minute hasty manoeuvres. For example, if you are about to miss an exit, don’t cross the motorway too quickly, you can always continue to the next junction and then get off and turn around.
  10. Breaking down on a motorway can be highly dangerous if you don’t follow the correct steps. Take a look at Trusted Dealers’ guide on what to do if you breakdown on the motorway.



Posted by Leana Kell on 16/02/2018