How To Drive On Motorways

Last Updated: 10/04/2021

Once you have passed your driving test, there will be one type of road that you have not yet faced; the motorway.

New learner drivers often fear motorways and can feel very stressed at the thought of driving on them, however, motorways are much more safe to drive on than other roads, contrary to what many people think.

It is speed that can make motorways dangerous so it is important that the speeds shown on the motorway is adhered to.

Motorways can also be really simple to drive on once you are aware of the rules and know how to drive properly and safely.

This involves things such as lane changes, overtaking and also what not to do, such as, undertaking.

What You Will Learn

Once you have passed your test you will be free to go and try your hand at motorway driving.

Doing this with an instructor is often the best way of approaching it for the first time.

To help you prepare, we have put together this simple guide.

It follows our usual format and should give you all of the information and advice needed for that first venture on to the motorway.

  • Step-By-Step Guide
  • Video Demonstration
  • Hints & Tips
  • Useful Information
  • Final Thoughts
  • Further Resources

Step-By-Step Guide

  • Make sure that you have checked that your vehicle is safe and prepared for motorway travel. Check the brakes, tyres, oil levels and windscreen wash.
  • Make sure that you have planned your journey before setting off. Check which junctions you will be exiting and entering so you are well prepared. Don’t put all your trust in a sat nav, they can sometimes be wrong!
  • Consider taking a friend or relative with a lot of driving experience when you first go on the motorway for support and reassurance.

Joining & Leaving The Motorway:

  • As you approach the motorway via the slip road, you must build up your speed so that you can join the flow of traffic with ease. This requires a full visual check including the blind spot. Before you join a motorway, build up speed on the slip road and join it when it is safe to do so.
  • As you prepare to leave the motorway, you will be able to see how far away the exit is by the countdown markers. Each marker represents 100 yards and are there to help you move your position in readiness for leaving the motorway.

Speed Control & Limits:

  • The speed limit for cars on the motorway is 70 mph but motorway speed limits can change several times on one stretch of road, particularly in the event of roadworks or an accident.  You must keep a check on signs which show changes to speed limits, particularly when the weather has changed, or if there is congestion or an accident on the motorway.
  • Your speed on a motorway is faster than other roads, so your stopping distance will be longer. Keep a safe distance between you and the car in front, and remember to increase the gap if it’s wet, icy or foggy.
  • If you start to feel tired, take a break, stop at the next available services and rest up. Only re-enter the motorway when you feel more alert and safe to drive.

Overtaking:

  • You should not attempt to overtake another vehicle on the motorway unless it is safe to do so.
  • You must carefully judge the speed of the vehicles around you and check that the lane that you intend to move into is clear in front and at the back of you. Your blind spot must be checked and you must give your signal to overtake in plenty of time.

What You Must Not Do:

  • You must not allow distractions within your car to affect your concentration – mobile phones, snacks etc.
  • You should NOT linger but move quickly past an accident on the motorway as any slowing down to see what is going on could cause congestion and worse still, accidents.

Video Demonstration

Hints & Tips

  • Make sure that you have familiarised yourself with the Highway Code so that you know how a motorway is laid out and what rules relate to motorway driving.
  • Your first experience on a motorway can be daunting. It’s a good idea to try and pick the quietest time possible so that you can get used to the feel of a motorway and how to drive on one safely.
  • As we’ve mentioned earlier in this article, if possible you should take someone with you on that first motorway drive. Ideally, it should be a driving instructor, but a friend or family member who is an experienced driver and a cool head in the car will also be fine. This can help you feel much more at ease.

Useful Information

Tailgating on the motorway (driving too close to the car in front) and hogging a lane (staying in a lane too long and preventing other vehicles to pass) could cost you a fine of £100 and 3 points on your licence.

You could also incur police attention if you drive too slowly on a motorway.

This is because it’s unsafe – if you’re driving at 40mph, for example, and other cars are travelling at 60mph and above, vehicles will approach you very quickly and need to either brake suddenly or overtake by swerving.

It’s not safe.

Therefore, don’t drive too slowly if it’s safe to go quicker.

Final Thoughts

You might want to consider taking a Pass Plus advanced driving course to give you more confidence for driving on motorways.

As well as giving you a stronger sense of control, an advanced driving course can also save you money on your car insurance as you will be considered to be a good risk

It will involve driving on a motorway with an instructor, which gives you so much more confidence and clearer guidance.

This is pretty useful when you’re new to driving!

Further Resources