8 Tips to Stay Safe on the Motorways
Motorway driving can be the most enjoyable but also the most intimidating form of driving depending on your own experience. Some love the high-speed thrills that motorway driving brings, not to mention that it helps you to get to your destination much faster than travelling exclusively on the A roads.
In today’s blog, we are sharing our best tips to help you stay safe on the motorways. Read and digest.
Staying Safe on the Motorways: Helpful Tips
1. Check Your Car
Before you undertake any journey that will involve a lot of motorway driving, especially a long journey or when you’re going somewhere or on a route for the first time, perform some basic checks on your car. Check the tyre pressure, state of your oil, that you have enough windscreen washer fluid (and spare in the boot) and whatnot. Getting these things right will at least help you know the car is ready for the journey ahead.
2. Follow the “Two-Second Rule” on Following Distance
The speed limit on the motorway is 70mph, but many drivers you see will be going faster than that in places. At these higher speeds, your following distances need to be greater than those of your typical driving habit. The best rule of thumb is known as the two-second rule, and it goes like this:
Pick a landmark on the road up ahead. It could be a road sign, a bridge, anything will do. The more clearly visible the better. When the car in front of you passes that landmark, start counting. It should take you at least two seconds to reach the same point. If you get there in 2 seconds or more, then you’re following at a safe distance. If it’s less than 2 seconds, ease off because you’re too close.
3. When in Doubt, Stick to the Left Lane
New users on the motorway can be unsure about which lane it’s best to be in as your “default setting.” The answer is to remain in the left lane when you are just cruising along. The middle and right lanes are for overtaking. Even if the motorway is relatively empty, it’s safest to stick to the left lane as your standard cruising lane.
4. Increase Mirror and Blind Spot Checking
With all the moving pieces on the motorway traveling at much greater speed, and the increased likelihood that you will have to manoeuvre between lanes a lot, your usage of the mirrors and checking of your blind spot will have to increase. Maintain a solid rotation, checking the mirrors before you make any change in your driving, including overtaking, changing lane or merging. Even while cruising, keep your eyes cycling the mirrors for any signs of other road users approaching you, overtaking you, or maybe acting in a somewhat hazardous manner.
5. Remember to Take Breaks
Motorway driving might be exciting when you first get started, but believe us when we say that it gets very dull, very fast. Once you’re used to the idea of driving on the motorway and have had some practice, the long, relatively straight roads and steady speeds are a recipe for another kind of danger — drowsiness.
Many people who have accidents caused by drowsiness on the motorway are not actually sleepy or physically tired. They can sometimes be lulled into a drowsy state by the monotony of the motorway drive itself. This is especially true for people who are driving alone. Take care to take refresher breaks where you have some coffee, and possibly even a quick nap in the car if it will keep you alert.
6. Take a Refresher Course
If you are a new driver or haven’t driven on the motorway for a long time, or if the very idea just gives you the willies, then consider taking an advanced driving course that features motorway driving. Alternatively, you could hire a professional instructor, or take a more experienced friend with you on your first trip out to help give you tips, guidance and help. Their insights can make you feel safer and more comfortable on the road.
Motorways can have some tricky parts that are intimidating and leave people unsure of what to do. When things go wrong, having an experienced hand there to help steer you back in the right direction is invaluable. For example, exiting on the wrong junction on the motorway can send some into a panic, but an experienced driver knows that you can simply loop back around and retrace your steps to get back on track.
7. Take Care on Slip Roads
The slip road is most commonly the motorway feature that intimidates drivers. Joining the motorway can be daunting, especially if there are a lot of cars on the road already. Making that all-important merge can be tricky. The first thing you need to know is that cars already on the motorway should have priority, so let the get ahead. Don’t drive too fast on the slip road. This allows other cars to get past you, leaving you space to enter.
If you notice that the slip road naturally becomes the left lane of the motorway, then you have nothing to worry about. Stay in your lane and just let the lanes merge by themselves.
8. Use Sat-Nav
A sat-nav or map navigation system is an indispensable tool on the motorway. Above we mentioned a scenario where you might have taken the wrong junction and gotten off the motorway too early. If you do this, the sat-nav will reorganise itself and give you a route to loop back and get where you need to be. This means you don’t always have to have an experienced driver or instructor on hand to tell you what to do next. The sat-nav brings great peace of mind, and is an amazing tool for building confidence.
Stick to the Book, Stay Safe on the Motorway
The motorway is no place for maverick drivers. When everyone follows the rules, everyone can stay safe and get where they’re going quickly and safely. When people decide that the rules and conventions no longer apply to them, that’s when things turn nasty and when accidents happen on the motorway, they usually happen “big.” Avoid all of this by sticking with our above advice.