Driving Safely on the Motorway
Find out how to drive safely on the motorways with this guide - it could even reduce your car insurance premiums!
Last updated: 15/11/2023 | Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
Driving on a motorway for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. It’s possible that you are new to driving and have therefore never driven on the motorway as driving tests do not require motorway experience.
Worry not though, we have written a guide that will help you get your head around the rules of driving on motorways; you'll be an expert in no time!
Commonly motorways will have three lanes. Lane one (left-hand lane), lane two (middle lane) and lane three (right-hand lane).
Lane one is for normal driving, whereas any lanes to the right of lane one will be for overtaking.
Certain vehicles can never use the right-hand lane. These include vehicles with trailers, vehicles over 7.5 tonnes, speed-limited goods vehicles between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes and speed-limited passenger vehicles carrying over eight passengers.
When driving at night you can use the motorway’s reflective studs to help guide you.
Vehicles already on the motorway always have priority over vehicles joining the motorway, so beware of oncoming vehicles as you are joining. This priority rule does not necessarily apply to emergency services so if you are already on a motorway watch out for emergency services joining if they have their blue lights flashing.
Make sure you are aware of which exit you are using to leave the motorway. Give yourself plenty of time to take the exit by making sure you are in the left-hand lane before you exit the motorway.
Also, make sure you keep an eye on your speed limit when leaving the motorway. There will be signs informing you of the speed limit on the road you have used to exit the motorway.
Some motorways are known as smart motorways.
These are motorways which use an Active Traffic Management system – a control centre that uses technology to manage traffic. They use variable speed limits that show up on signs overhead or to the side of the road.
Keep an eye out for these speed limits as they are often mandatory and if you exceed them you are likely to be caught on one of several cameras in the overhead gantries.
If the speed limit is in a red ring then it is mandatory, whereas flashing amber lights mean that the limit is advisory.
Smart motorways often allow drivers to drive in the hard shoulder either when traffic is particularly busy, when lanes are closed for roadworks or because of an accident.
It will be clearly indicated on the overhead signs. If you see a red cross in the sign above any of the lanes, then safely get out of the lane as it usually means the lane is closed.
If you want to take your driving skills to the next level, there are various courses you can take to improve your driving.
They cover things that are not taught in standard driving lessons and will help improve your confidence and knowledge on the road.
The main four advanced courses that are recommended are: