A Guide To Motorway Driving
Learner drivers are allowed on motorways. Here are our top tips for driving on the UK’s busiest roads.
If you’re learning to drive and want to drive on the motorway, you can! Motorway lessons are totally voluntary, and you’ll only have them if your instructor thinks you’re ready. Even with your instructor there, driving on the motorway for the first time can be daunting!
Here’s everything you need to know to stay safe on the motorway and keep on the right sight of the law and your fellow drivers.
What is each lane on the motorway for?
There’s no such thing as a fast or slow lane! Lane discipline is extremely important on motorways so it’s important to know the rules. Check out our infographic above for details on when to use each lane (Hint: it’s the left unless you’re overtaking!).
Why are there different colour studs on the motorway?
There are reflective studs on motorways to guide you when driving at night. You may hear them called by the far cuter name ‘Cat’s Eyes’. The different colours can help you recognise different road markings and maintain your lane discipline.
|Red||Hard shoulder division|
|Amber||Central reservation division|
|White||Mid lane division|
|Green||Slip road division|
How to join the motorway
Joining the motorway can seem scary when you haven’t done it before. Use the slip road to build up speed before joining the motorway. Aim to match the speed of traffic on the motorway. Check there’s a safe gap in the traffic for you to merge. Use the Mirror-Signal-Manoeuvre routine before you merge into the motorway.
It’s good motorway etiquette for other drivers to move into the middle lane to make space for you, but you should be prepared to slow down if necessary. You should always give priority to the traffic already on the motorway.
How to leave the motorway
It’s just as important to know how to exit the motorway properly! Make sure you plan your route in advance, so you know which junction you need. Keep any eye on the road signs so you can prepare and avoid missing your exit.
When you are approaching your junction, make sure you’re in the left lane. There will be countdown signs on the roadside letting you know how far it is until your exit. There will be three lines to indicate when you are 300 yards away, and additional markers at 200 and 100 yards.
Signal left when you reach the first marker for 300 yards. This will make other drivers aware of your intention to leave the motorway. It’s important not to slow down before you turn off the motorway as this could stop the flow of traffic. Use the slip road to slow down to the speed limit indicated.
What are the rules for overtaking on the motorway
Motorways have a maximum speed limit of 70mph which you should never exceed even when overtaking. If there is slow moving traffic in the left lane you may overtake. You should only overtake on the right of other cars.
Before overtaking, use your Mirror-Signal-Manouevre procedure and look over your right shoulder to check your blind spot to make sure it’s safe to pull out.
Indicate right to make your intention to move lanes clear to other drivers. Remember you need to check your mirror before signalling, so don’t cruise along the left lane indicating while waiting for a space fi you are being overtaken yourself. Make sure you cancel your indicator once you have moved lanes.
The aim of motorway driving is to stay in the left-hand lane as much as possible. Once you have overtaken and built up a safe distance between you and the car in the left, check your mirrors, signal and move back into the left land when safe to do so.
What is middle lane hogging and is it illegal?
Middle lane hogging is not only bad etiquette that seriously frustrates your fellow road users, it’s illegal! It comes under careless driving along with tailgating and accidentally running a red light. You could be hit with an on the spot fine of £100 and three penalty points for committing this offence.
As we’ve already discussed, you should always drive in the left-hand lane on a motorway when the road ahead is clear. Middle lane hogging is when a vehicle stays in the middle lane longer than necessary, even when there’s no one left to overtake!
Is driving on a smart motorway any different?
Smart motorways have been introduced to tackle the increasing congestion on UK motorways. They use cameras and speed signs to monitor traffic flow, and some types even allow cars to drive on the hard shoulder.
The fundamental rules of motorway driving still apply on smart motorways. However, there are a few exceptions:
- Never drive in a lane close by a red X
- Keep to the speed limit shown on the gantries overhead (if no speed limit is displayed, national speed limit applies)
- A solid white line indicates a hard shoulder. You shouldn’t drive in this unless directed by the overhead gantries.
- A broke white line indicates a normal running lane
- If your vehicle experiences difficulties exit the smart motorway as soon as possible as there is often no hard shoulder
- If there’s no hard shoulder, use the Emergency Refuge Areas, located a maximum of every 1.5 miles
Remember that learner drivers can only practice motorway driving with an approved driving instructor, in a vehicle with dual controls. However, you can practice driving on other types of roads outside of lessons. If you decide to undertake extra private practice with friends or family, make sure you have the right insurance! With Veygo Learner Driver Insurance, you can get insured from 2 hours to 90 days to practice your driving.
Pro Tip: We have a number of upcoming competitions so keep a close eye on our social media to stay up to date! 😉