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Driving on Motorways

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 6 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Driving On Motorways

Driving on the motorway requires slightly different driving skills to driving on a regular road. Many drivers travel at a faster speed on a motorway than they would do on a normal road, which invariably gives them less reaction time if an unexpected situation arises. Another difference comes in the form of the signals used to instruct drivers, as most motorway signals are simply not used on normal roads.

Motorway Signals

These are often used to alert drivers to dangers that may not be immediately obvious, such as upcoming accidents. Some of the main signals include:

  • Amber flashing lights: These warn of upcoming dangers, such as fog. In some cases, the signs may indicate speed limits, closed lanes or warning signs such as ‘Fog’. If you see one of these, reduce your speed until the hazard has passed (this is indicated when you see a signal that is not flashing or a sign giving you the all-clear).
  • Red flashing lights: These warn you not to go beyond this point in the lane in which they are flashing. If they are flashing on the central reservation, you should avoid going any further in any lane.
If understanding motorway signals is problematic for you, get a copy of the Highway Code. Most of the signals will be featured there.

Joining the Motorway

When joining the motorway from a slip road or another motorway, you need to give priority to the vehicles that are already on the motorway. Reduce your speed for safety reasons.

Driving on the Motorway

At the same time, maintain a reasonable distance between yourself and the vehicle in front. A reasonable distance usually involves a gap of at least two seconds to the vehicle in front. If visibility is poor or the road is wet or icy, this gap should be increased so that you can safely slow down without risking an accident.

Staying Alert

As motorways involve driving for long stretches of time, it’s easy to lose concentration. If this happens, you’ll probably find yourself going above the speed limit, and failing to keep a two second gap to the vehicle in front. Both of these are potentially very dangerous, but the risk of falling asleep at the wheel is even more deadly. You don’t need to fall asleep for any great length of time for an accident to happen - one second is all it takes to lose control of your vehicle.

Leaving the Motorway

The usual route of leaving the motorway is via a slip road. There will usually be signs to tell you when a slip road is coming up. When you see one of these signs, move into the left-hand lane (when it is safe to do so), so that you can use the slip road without affecting the other lanes of traffic.

Driving on the motorway can require driving skills that aren't as widely used on normal roads, such as joining a motorway, and understanding how to change lanes safely (either to overtake other vehicles, or to move into the appropriate lane to use a slip road) and when it is safe to do so. These skills are still needed to drive safely on other roads, but they become especially important when driving on the motorway.

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