Motorways are the safest type of road, but also the least forgiving, due to their higher speeds. Dangerous situations develop quickly; vehicles travel much further before drivers even start to react. If you drive too close to the vehicle in front, or forget to use your mirrors before moving out, it could be disastrous. So whether you’re joining, leaving or driving on a motorway then here are some tops tips to ensure you stay safe…
- Joining instructions – Unless you join the motorway at its start, you will normally join via a slip road. Use the slip road to adjust your speed to the traffic already on the motorway. Sometimes, you may have to slow down to merge safely.
- Cruise control – Drive at a steady cruising speed in the left-hand lane (lane one), keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Stay within the speed limit, even if other drivers are going faster.
- Taking over – Stay in lane one unless you need to overtake. Only overtake if you are sure you can move into the right hand lanes without interfering with other traffic. Check yourmirrors first, and if it is safe signal and move out. Remember that other vehicles are moving at high speed.
- Moving back – When you have overtaken and have allowed plenty of distance for the vehicle you have overtaken, move back into left hand lane. Wait until you can see its front bumper in your interior mirror.
- Be smart – Many motorways have been converted to Smart Motorways. Typically, they have variable speed limits. Electronic signs on gantries above the motorway show the maximum speed limit in force at the time, and whether any lanes are closed.
- Shouldering the responsibility – The hard shoulder may be used as a running lane, either all the time or only in congested conditions when the electronic signs say so. Emergency refuges are provided next to the hard shoulder at intervals for vehicle breakdowns.
- Time to leave – You normally leave a motorway by moving onto a slip road and then onto a roundabout or a non-motorway road. Move into lane one in good time, and signal that you are exiting when you reach the 300 yard countdown marker. Do not slow down too soon – maintain your motorway speed, if traffic allows, until you have moved onto the slip road. Then decelerate steadily until you have reached an appropriate speed.
- Two becomes one – If two motorways are merging, or a motorway is dividing into separate ones, check the direction signs for the lane you need to be in, and get into that lane in good time to avoid last minute, sharp manoeuvres.
And remember – when you leave the motorway, check your speed. Your sense of speed may be affected by having driven on a fast road. Check your speedometer and remind yourself that you’ll now be facing oncoming traffic.
Throughout #OSHtober we will be providing you with tips and advice on how to ensure you drive safely for work. You can also keep up to date with all the latest safety news by signing up to SafetyMatters, our free monthly e-newsletter.