Top tips for driving on the motorway
Whilst you may be proficient at navigating winding country roads and driving down dual carriageways, your first journey in your new Ford car along a motorway can seem slightly daunting! Although you couldn’t previously have driving lessons on tackling the motorway, new learner drivers can be given an extra confidence boost with supervised lessons. However, if you are an experienced driver with a bit of anxiety when it comes to motorway driving, these tips could be just what you’re looking for!
Merging onto the motorway
When it comes to merging onto the motorway, apprehension can sometimes cause you to slow down. However, this can be counter-productive and present you with a range of new challenges for you to get to grips with! When travelling down the slip road, it is crucial to accelerate to a speed that is in keeping with those already travelling along the motorway - confidence is key here.
Before merging onto the motorway, it is important to use your mirrors, as well as looking over your right shoulder, to locate a gap in the flow of traffic. Once you have noticed a suitable spot, you should indicate and travel over the white dotted line into the lane. Your speed should be the same as the other cars so as not to cause other traffic to slow, whilst remaining below the national speed limit of 70 mph. If you wish to overtake, wait until you have been used to travelling at the speed before indicating to join the right-hand jane.
“Some drivers can find driving on motorways intimidating due to higher speed limits. However, motorways are statistically our safest roads, with just 3% of accidents and 4% of fatalities, according to information from Motoring Assist. While motorways may be safe, collisions on them tend to have more severe consequences,” Simon Rewell, Road Safety Manager at insurethebox inform us. Insurance company, insurethebox, installs a telematic “black box” device to your car, allowing them to monitor the safety of your driving.
“Over the last two years, our award-winning speed reduction campaign has seen speeding instances among the highest risk drivers reduce by about 28%. This has cut the frequency of accidents among young drivers by 9%. If motorists manage their speed on the motorway properly the benefits can extend beyond road safety to their wallets too as telematics insurance rates are based on driving behaviour”.
“It’s speed that makes the difference between safe and unsafe driving, particularly for inexperienced drivers. Because of this, it is vital that all motorway drivers, no matter how experienced, leave extra space between them and the vehicle in front and remember that the speed limit is a maximum, not a target.”
Whether it’s your first motorway drive or your 50th, it takes time and practice to become a safe and confident driver. There are a number of different reasons why your confidence can be knocked, from accidents to not having driven in a while. It is more than likely that you’ll have an abundance of confidence when it comes to routes that you’re familiar with, but if you live a considerable distance away from a motorway and don’t often find yourself needing to travel along one, then you may feel as though it is slightly lacking. Whatever the reason, advanced driver training, such as the Pass Plus Scheme, can give you the confidence to handle different roads and situations.
Driving on the motorway at different times of the day will allow you to find the one driving situation that makes you the most nervous. Starting off when it is quieter, you can gradually begin to attempt the road at peak times, as well as at night, to build up your confidence. Additionally, weather can have a massive impact too, so challenging yourself to a journey in the rain, will help you become familiar with how you need to adapt your driving depending on the conditions.
Keep your distance
Various motorways across the UK will have white chevrons painted onto the lanes in order to alert drivers as to the space that should be between each car. However, sometimes you have to use your own initiative to decide how far back you should be. The highway code says that on a dry road and in good conditions you should leave a two-second gap between you and the car in front. This applies for all roads, not just motorways, so should be something that you’re actively doing in your day-to-day driving!
When driving on the motorway, conditions can instantly change, so making sure that you keep this gap gives you a little bit more reaction time, which can be vital in some circumstances. “Once on the motorway, the speed is faster compared to A and B roads so it’s even more important that drivers keep a safe distance from cars in front. There is less time to react due to the speed, so we recommend keeping at least two seconds away from the car in front, four seconds when driving in poor visibility”, advises Simon. “To know if you have passed a vehicle safely when overtaking, check if you can see the front of their vehicle in your rear-view mirror, not just in your wing mirrors. This will ensure that you have left a safe distance between you and them to move back into the inside lane.”
It should come as no surprise that it is not recommended for you to drive when you’re tired, but more often than not drivers will embark on lengthy journeys without stopping for a break! Before leaving for your journey, you need to think about how long you’re planning on travelling for and if you’re likely to get tired. If you’re feeling sleepy, this could have a negative impact on your driving and increases the chance of you being in an accident.
The highway code advises that you should allow yourself fifteen minutes for a break every two hours. Not only does this allow you to stretch your legs but gives you time to refresh your mind. Giving your eyes a break from the road means that your concentration levels will increase when you get back to driving, and the break means that you’re less likely to be distracted.
Know your route
One of the biggest causes of stress when driving on the motorway stems from not knowing the route. Often drivers can get confused with the various lanes and junctions on the motorway, hesitating when driving which can sometimes lead to accidents. Additionally, mapping out your route ahead of time allows you to decide when you will take a rest stop, structuring your drive into more manageable sections.
In order to eliminate this, you should plan your journey ahead of time, allowing you to know exactly when you should be leaving the motorway and how far in advance you should prepare for this. Although a Ford SYNC navigation system can be useful for this, especially if there are road closures or you decide on a change of destination last-minute, as you can keep this up-to-date with the most recent changes to roads.