In light of calls from road safety groups to allow learner drivers to get some motorway practice whilst still on their provisional license, we’re taking a look at some crucial tips to help new drivers tackle the motorway once they’ve passed. Having already warned you about the five types of bad motorway drivers, you’ll know what to look out for, but you need to make sure you’re motorway-ready first!
Take someone with you
As a new driver, you’ll probably be a little nervous about driving in general, regardless of the type of road you’re on. If you’re particularly nervous about motorways, however, It might be a good idea to take someone with you for your first experience of driving on the motorway. Make sure you take someone who’s calm and who’ll be a reassurance to you, because there’s no point in taking someone who will only make you more nervous!
Mirrors are one of the most, if not the most, important part of motorway driving. Make sure yours are clean, clear and in the correct position. You’ll need to use your door and interior mirrors when you join the motorway, every time you change lane, and to check what’s going on around you.
Remember to check your blind spots, too, because cars can easily be hidden out of view of your mirrors.
Joining the motorway
This can be the most daunting part of the motorway for new drivers.
Pick up your speed as you enter the slip road and indicate to the right. Look in your right door and interior mirrors to see if there is enough space to join the motorway. If there is traffic coming you will either need to speed up (if safe to do so), or decelerate to wait for it to pass.
Generally, other drivers will slow down, speed up or move over to the middle lane in order to help you join the carriageway, but it’s important to remember that you do not have right of way.
Maintain your speed
The motorway is one of the few places where driving fast is safer than driving slowly. Sticking between 60mph-70mph will keep the traffic flowing, and allow people around you to overtake safely.
You shouldn’t brake on the motorway unless there is slowing traffic or an obstruction ahead. Braking unnecessarily on the motorway can be very dangerous because other drivers may not expect it and might not have time to react safely. Driving slowly is equally as risky, as it may force cars behind you to brake suddenly or to overtake, pulling into the path of other cars. In fact, you can actually be stopped by the police for driving too slowly on the motorway. The same goes, of course, for driving in excess of 70mph, which can be just as dangerous.
If there is slowing traffic or an obstruction ahead, it’s a good idea to use your hazard lights in order to warn motorists behind you. This will grab their attention and ensure that they react safely, and, in turn, will make sure they are able to warn drivers behind them in the same way.
Give yourself time to exit
If you know your exit is coming up soon, don’t overtake vehicles in front of you, unless you’re sure you have time to. Stick in the inside lane and indicate to exit when you see the countdown markers for your exit. If you do overtake too close to your chosen exit, carry on until the next one instead of dangerously pulling across in front of traffic.
Note: Countdown markers are those three boards you see just before a motorway exit. The first has three bars, the second has two, and the final board has one. Each bar indicates about 100 yards to the exit.
Did you know…
More road traffic accidents actually occur on A and B roads than on motorways. Although the speed and fast pace of motorways can make them seem a little intimidating, you’re actually less likely to be involved in an accident on one.
A great way to get used to driving on the motorway is by taking a Pass Plus course once you’ve passed your test. With tuition from a professional instructor, you’ll be able to get to grips with motorway driving, and it will soon become just another aspect of driving.
Image via Bob McCaffrey.