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Motorway driving tips

19th January 2021

Driving on the motorway for the first time? Or perhaps you’re wanting to improve your confidence driving on the motorway? Our detailed guide of motorway driving tips has you covered.

Joining or leaving the motorway

Often, the most daunting thought of motorway driving is joining or leaving the motorway, as well as knowing how to overtake safety and correctly. That’s why we’ve put together some top tips for you to remember while motorway driving:

Joining the motorway

  • Give priority to vehicles already on the motorway
  • Keep up the speed of the vehicles already on the motorway, as this will make it easier to merge
  • Keep an eye on the lane you’re driving in – as some slip roads can eventually become left-hand lanes of the motorway, meaning there’s no need to merge until you’re ready

Overtaking on a motorway

  • Check you mirrors, and check again. Sometimes, people can speed up out of nowhere – so ensure you have lots of space to merge over carefully.
  • Do not undertake. This is when you overtake a vehicle on the left-hand lane to them, which is deemed as an offence. This can be dangerous if the driver suddenly decides they want to move back into the left lane.

Leaving the motorway

  • Ensure you’re aware of your exit junction in advance before you want to leave, and allow yourself plenty of time
  • Ensure to check your mirrors carefully before merging back across to the left hand lane
  • Keep an eye on your speed – it may seem like you’re going slower than you actually are, having driven for X miles at 70mph

Motorway lanes

One of the most common queries people have when they’re searching for motorway driving tips is guidance on motorway lanes. Typically, there are 3 lanes on the motorway:

  • Lane 1 – left-hand lane. This is wrongly coined as the ‘slow lane’, but this lane is actually designated for normal driving.
  • Lane 2 – middle lane. This lane is for overtaking, but it’s important to not ‘hog’ the middle lane, as it can cause traffic build up and congestion, and this is also deemed as an offence.
  • Lane 3 – right-hand lane. This lane is also used for overtaking, and is also wrongly coined as the ‘fast lane’. However, it’s worth noting that certain types of vehicles are not permitted to use Lane 3 – such as vehicles over 7.5 tonnes; certain speed-limited goods vehicles; speed-limited vehicles designed to carry more than 8 passengers; and vehicles with trailers.

Motorway driving at night

  • Keep alert - in the dark, it’s especially important to keep alert and concentrate – as some motorways may not be as well-lit as others. If you’re feeling sleepy, or finding it difficult to see the road, pull over at a service station to rejuvenate yourself.
  • Avoid dazzling other drivers – one of the most important rules of motorway driving at night is ensuring you’re using your headlights correctly. If there are no oncoming vehicles, you can use your full beam headlight in order to see the road clearer – however, this must be switched off as soon as cars approach from the opposite direction.
  • Avoid being dazzled yourself – it’s important to be aware that you may be also dazzled yourself – if this happens, concentrate on the left-hand road markings to avoid vision distortion by looking in your mirrors. This will allow you to be guided along the motorway while you wait for the driver dazzling you to pass by. You might also want to reduce your speed if this happens.

Motorway stud colours

A lot of confusion around motorway driving revolves around what colours the reflective studs are, and which lanes these colours correspond to. The studs colours are as follows:

  • Green - Slip road division
  • White - Mid-lane division
  • Amber - Central reservation division
  • Red - Hard shoulder division

It’s handy to follow the colour of the reflective studs to guide you when you’re driving on the motorway at night.

Concluding motorway tips

  • If you’re driving on the motorway for the first time, it’s recommended to bring a more experienced driver along with you.
  • You can also complete a Pass Plus course with your driving instructor. This looks at driving on motorways in more detail, as well as night driving, driving on dual carriageways and driving on rural roads. Learn more about Pass Plus from GOV.uk.
  • Remember to keep your distance from vehicles in front of you – leaving a 2-second (or 2-chevron) gap between you and them.
  • Plan your route beforehand so you feel confident you know when you’ll be joining and exiting the motorway.
  • If you’re looking to complete a long journey, car maintenance beforehand is recommended. Booking in for your car service is one of the best ways to ensure your vehicle is safe and ready for the motorway.
  • Lastly, practise makes perfect!

For more driving tips, head to our motoring advice and support section. Alternatively, locate your nearest Merityre branch to book in for any motoring maintenance ahead of your motorway drive.