Motorway Driving Tips

22 September 2021 Blog

Some of you may drive on motorways daily as part of your commute to work, but more than a third of drivers rarely drive on a motorway and some drivers not at all.

The more experienced motorway drivers can easily pick up bad habits due to complacency and the lesser experienced motorway drivers may not even know the key essentials to drive safely on motorways.

We share our tips and advice, some of which may seem obvious but it is highly likely that we are all guilty of not doing at least one of these incorrectly!

Check Your Vehicle

How many of us briefly check our car every time before we embark on a motorway journey? The motorway is a very dangerous place to break down, and on some occasions carrying out a few simple checks before your journey can be the difference between you getting to your destination safely and developing a problem where you have to pull into the hard shoulder.

Basic checks such as checking the fuel/electric charge level, oil/coolant level, a brake & tyre inspection and checking your lights are in working order should be done before any long journey.

Adjust Your Speed For Slip Roads

The slip road is your opportunity to get your vehicle up to a suitable speed for entering the motorway.

If you carry on at 30-40mph and try and get onto the motorway, it is going to be extremely difficult to find a gap when the motorway is busy. The first lane can be primarily Lorries and HGV vehicles and if they have set their cruise control to 60mph, you trying to enter the motorway at less than 60mph is going to be difficult, and also dangerous for yourself and other road users.

Have the confidence to increase your speed and make sure you signal and check your mirrors thoroughly before merging on to the motorway

Keep Left

Now this has to be the most common mistake you see regularly when motorway driving. So much so that ‘middle lane hogging’ is now considered an offence. Police were given the power as of 2013 to hand out on the spot fines of £100 and 3 penalty points if they believed that a driver was driving unnecessarily in the middle lane.

This does not mean you should be constantly weaving in and out of traffic as this will increase the chance of an accident. It all comes down to using common sense. You should be in the left lane until you reach a point you need to overtake, and when it is safe to do so return back to the left lane.

If you are in the middle lane and the left lane is completely empty (and is empty for quite a distance ahead) you have no reason to be in that middle lane. If everybody was guilty of staying in the middle lane, the motorways would become extremely congested and people become irritated and start taking unnecessary risks like under taking, which will increase the chances of an accident.

Check Your Mirrors

There is no such thing as checking your mirrors too much. If it is safe to do so, even if everything looks ok, things can change very quickly on a motorway so understanding what is happening around you is essential in case you have to make that split second emergency manoeuvre or decision due to something happening around you.

Your blind spot is also essential as your very last check before moving into another lane, as a smaller car or motorcycle can quite easily not show in your mirror but can be present when you check your blind spot.

You’ll notice that some newer cars come fitted with Blind Spot Monitoring – sensors mounted on rear quarter on the car with sensors in your wing mirrors. The car will give you a warning when another vehicle enters your blind spot, preventing you changing lanes in a potentially dangerous situation.

Make sure you take extra care around trucks & larger vehicles. Always follow the rule of ‘if you can’t see their wing mirrors, then they can’t see you’.

The 2 Second Rule

There should always be a two second gap between each car on the motorway as an appropriate guide as a stopping distance.

The easiest way to calculate this is to wait for the car in front to pass a static mark on the road, e.g. a lamppost or bridge, then count how many seconds it takes you to pass this point after they have.

Should you ever need to brake or even emergency stop, this will give you ample time to stop safely without colliding into the driver in front. Again, common sense plays a big part. If the roads are wet due to adverse weather, then you need to increase your gap as your car isn’t going to respond as quickly in wet, icy or snowy weather.

Collision Avoidance is a handy feature, which can detect an incoming hazard in front of your vehicle. Cars fitted with Collision Avoidance will either emit an audible warning, flash a warning on the dashboard, and some cars will even apply the brakes to bring your car to a stop!

Anticipation & Awareness

By looking beyond just the car in front, have a glance around you and ahead into the distance to get an idea of what is happening around you.

Some accidents can be avoided by just being that little bit more aware of your surroundings and quite often or not by you anticipating a possible scenario. If it does happen you are able to act a lot more safely to the situation.

Control Your Speed

Getting familiar with road signs falls hand in hand with controlling your speed. Sometimes due to congestion, the speed limit may drop to 50pmh or 40mph. This is not an advisory speed limit, it is essential you drop down to that speed.

In general, being consistent with your speed makes not only the journey comfortable if you have any passengers, but also a lot safer. Sudden bursts and increases in speed and sudden decreases will just increase the likeliness of an incident.

Indicate In Good Time

When changing lanes, indicting a couple of seconds before making your manoeuvre will give drivers around you the opportunity to see what you are about to do.

Giving ample warning of a manoeuvre you are about to make will reduce the risk of the driver behind or beside you making the maneouvre at the same time. If all drivers did this, it would make motorway driving a lot safer for everyone.

Only Use The Hard Shoulder For Emergencies

The hard shoulder is extremely dangerous and if you do happen to breakdown on the motorway, there is a reason why they tell you to get out of your vehicle and go stand well back.

If somebody isn’t fully concentrating whilst driving, they may collide into your vehicle.

Always make sure the only time you find yourself on the hard shoulder is because you have to be there due to an emergency, and have no other option.

Take Regular Breaks

We are all guilty of just wanting to get to our destination as quickly as possible. However, sometimes you are more tired than you probably even realised. That slight lapse in concentration due to fatigue could be the difference between having an accident and getting to your destination safely.

And let’s be honest.. who doesn’t enjoy a quick hot drinks break or a food break to recharge!?

Looking To Upgrade Your Car For Something More Suited To Motorway Driving?

We have a great choice of nearly new cars in stock. Many are fitted with great features such as Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Keep Assist, Collision Avoidance and more, to help make those long motorway journeys a breeze.

Browse our entire range online or visit your local store to test drive any that have caught your eye.