Perhaps you’re after a trip to Belfast along the M1 or brought your car on the ferry to visit Glasgow for a weekend, either way it’s important to know how to drive on the motorway correctly.
There are many things to take into consideration such as merging, speed limits, road signs, and overtaking.
Motorways tend to have a bad reputation so it’s no wonder why some drivers become nervous or choose to avoid using these roads.
Whether you’re an experienced driver or new driver it’s still beneficial to know the ins and outs of driving on motorways. Here at Stroll Insurance, we’ve put together a list of motorway driving rules so you can be fully prepared and feel more confident when driving across the UK.
1. Merging onto the Motorway
The first thing you should know when merging is to give priority to those already on the motorway. If you're nervous you may be tempted to slow down or stop and wait for traffic to pass when joining from the slip road. But did you know that the slip road is there to allow you to accelerate and match the speed of the traffic already on the motorway? By roughly matching the speed of other vehicles on the road, you can merge safely with traffic.
In addition to speed, it’s always important to use your indicator to show traffic you intend on joining the motorway. This should be done as early as possible to attract the attention of other road users, facilitating a safe merge for everyone.
2. Motorway Speed Limits
Like any road across the UK, it’s important to adhere to the speed limit. The motorway speed limit is 70mph for cars not towing trailers or caravans but 60mph when towing. Remember that this speed limit can change at any time on a stretch of motorway, especially in the event of an accident. Be aware and keep an eye on road signs.
Speeding on the motorway is dangerous and could lead to penalty points on your licence and a speeding fine. Points on your licence will lead to higher car insurance costs, so bear this in mind the next time you’re shopping around for insurance.
Although there is no minimum speed limit that applies to motorways across the UK, driving too slowly is just as dangerous as a speeding offence so be cautious of your speed.
3. Smart Motorways
Did you know that around 10% of the motorway network across the UK (primarily England) is now made up of ‘smart motorways’? These motorways use different methods to increase capacity and reduce traffic congestion.
Traffic flow and volumes can be monitored using sensors. The system responds by automatically changing speed limits to help improve traffic flow. Signs and symbols also keep drivers informed about what’s happening on the road ahead. For instance, if there’s a breakdown or an accident ahead.
One popular sign you may see is the red x on the motorway. The red x sign means that a lane is closed so you should change to another lane. Driving in this lane is illegal. If caught by a motorway camera you could face a fine and get penalty points on your licence.
4. Know Your Motorway Signs
The colour of road signs depends on the type of road you’re travelling on. When driving on a motorway, you’ll come across signs with a blue background and white letters/diagrams. The most common signs are:
Start of a motorway sign indicates the beginning of a motorway. It often has the name of the motor way indicated such as the M20 or M1.
End of the motorway sign is similar to the start sign. The only difference is that it doesn’t include the name of the motorway and it has a red line going through it.
Direction signs are usually the biggest signs on a motorway. They tell you how far places are and provide you with instructions on how to get there. These signs can be positioned to the left of the motorway (as shown) or overhead on gantries.
Countdown markers indicate that you’re coming up to an exit. These signs are blue with white stripes. Three white stripes mean you’re 300 metres away from the exit. Two white stripes mean you’re 200 metres away and one white stripe means you’re 100 metres away from the exit.
You may also see brown signs on the motorway. These signs highlight nearby tourist attractions or places of interest. They usually include symbols or pictures to highlight the attractio
5. Overtaking on the Motorway
It’s important to keep left on the motorway when you can. Use the right lane to overtake. Remember you should never pass out someone on their left-hand side. This is called ‘undertaking’ and although it’s not strictly illegal, it is extremely dangerous and may be classed as reckless driving which is punishable.
Move back into the left lane once you’ve overtaken. Be sure to use your mirrors and always check your blind spot. If the motorway has three lanes, take extra care. There may be a car moving from the left-hand lane to the middle at the same time you’re moving from the right-hand lane to the middle.
So there you have it, our top 5 rules for driving on motorways across the UK. If you’d like more advice on driving or want to enquire about a car insurance quote, don’t hesitate to contact us today!