According to recent studies – 60% of new drivers are terrified of motorways! But why?
Some might say that it’s because driving on the motorway isn’t included in the experience of learning to drive. Despite it potentially being a major part of everyday life, if you are a legal driver, it’s currently illegal for learner drivers to be on the motorway – but that may be soon to change.
Transport minister Andrew Jones is pushing for learner drivers to be allowed on the motorway to practice.
The government said the change would allow learner drivers to “get a broader driving experience”, practise at higher speeds and put their theoretical knowledge into practice.
Tips for driving on the motorway
Until that happens, there are still a high number of young drivers and learners who are anxious about driving on motorways.
We’ve compiled some helpful tips to increase your confidence and make you a safer, in preparation for when you pass your test and are free to drive on the motorway.
Knowing the official rules of the road is a fundamental part of driving on the motorway safely. Make sure to brush up on the Highway Code rules for motorways.
This contains information about joining the motorway safely, driving on the motorway, lane discipline, overtaking, stopping and leaving the motorway.
It’s also helpful to look over the road signs so you know how to react to them on your drive.
Take someone with you
If you’re driving on the motorway for the first time, taking someone else with you who is an experienced driver is a clever idea.
You may be able to book extra lessons with an instructor or perhaps travel with a parent who previously accompanied you whilst practising as a learner.
Whether you need them for advice, to be an extra pair of eyes or simply to act as reassurance, it will help with the any stress you may have about doing this for the first time.
However, you should really avoid having a bunch of friends in your car the first time round as they may distract you.
Joining & Exiting the motorway
Some may find this the most difficult part of driving on the motorway, but once you know of the process, you will be fine. You usually enter a motorway via a slip road, in which you should:
- Build your speed to match the vehicles already on the motorway.
- Use the “mirror, signal, manoeuvre” when finding an appropriate gap in the moving traffic, be sure to carry out all observations and check your blind spot!
- Traffic should make the space for you, but if not, be prepared to slow down.
When exiting a motorway via a slip road consider the following:
- Watch out for road signs that let you know you are getting closer to your exit.
- Move into the left -hand lane, well before reaching your exit.
- Signal with plenty of time, perform your mirror signal manoeuvre routine again and move into the slip road.
- Reduce your speed accordingly on the slip road, bear in mind that you may be travelling faster than you think, so always check your speedometer.
Be conscious of your speed
For those driving in a car (that’s not towing a caravan or trailer), the national speed limit on the motorway is 70mph, however, this may differ in certain circumstances such as road works or lane closures.
It can sometimes be the case that you don’t feel like you are travelling at a high speed, which is why you should always keep an eye on your speedometer to ensure you’re not breaking the limit.
As you’re driving along the motorway, you may encounter traffic that is moving slower than you (such as vans, lorries etc), and you may have to overtake them.
To do so in a safe manner, be sure to use the “mirror, signal, manoeuvre” technique and remain observant whilst changing lanes.
When on a motorway with more than 3 lanes, try to keep to the lane which is furthest left unless you are overtaking traffic that is going considerably under the maximum speed limit.
Keeping your distance
When travelling at the maximum speed of 70mph, your stopping distance is significantly greater than usual. To ensure there is enough stopping distance, refer to the 2 second rule.
The 2 second rule involves choosing fixed point such as a lamp post or road sign and when the car in front of you passes it, start counting for two seconds. By the time you reach the two second mark, you should be reaching that exact point.
IMPORTANT: Double this distance for wet roads (4 seconds) and increase accordingly on icy roads.
When behind larger vehicles such as lorries, be sure to leave a bigger gap since they need more time to stop.
Brush up on your knowledge
These are just a few tips about driving on the motorway, if you want to find out more about the rules of driving on a motorway, visit the official government website.
As of now, learner drivers are still not able to drive on the motorway. However, once you have passed your test, many driving instructors and driving schools offer a pass plus programme, which involves lessons on how to drive on the motorway.
Until then, you can always brush up on your knowledge on different kinds of roads first, (such as A roads and B roads) by taking out some learner driver insurance.
If you have already passed your test, our parent company, Sky Insurance, offers great Black Box policies for young drivers.