Legal guide to UK motoring, sections for law enforcement, Driver licensing, learner and new drivers, buying and selling, speeding fines, owning a vehicle, wheel clamping, traffic information
Motorways are statistically the safest roads - they carry 15% of traffic and account for around 3% of accidents. But due to the high speed and volume of traffic, any accidents are usually serious.
Your view of the road ahead is usually just the back of a lorry and traffic stopping ahead will give hardly any if no notice so leave a gap in between you and the vehicle ahead that you could stop in if an emergency occurred. Remember that stopping distances at motorway speeds are vastly increased.
Sustained motorway driving will make you less aware of your speed. Monitor your speed regularly and use cruise control if you have it (Where it is safe to do so) Don't forget that if you leave the motorway 30mph will feel like you are crawling.
Remember to stay alert. Motorway driving can be boring and even hypnotic, stress and tiredness will drastically lengthen your reaction times. This can cause accidents so have a break of about 15 mins every 3 hours.
Avoid hogging the middle lane. This is tempting to do so that you are not constantly pulling out to over take slower vehicles but this is what you are meant to do. Driving in the wrong lane increases congestion and can be very annoying to other road users.
Look ahead for signs of stopping traffic and be ready to brake. Sometimes when you are looking far ahead the view of the traffic makes them look as though they are stopped so look out for brake lights. Over-braking can cause tail backs and even accidents as the people behind you suddenly seeing an unexpected brake light also brake and usually because it may be a surprise they brake harder than you. The result is a concertina effect in the traffic where the traffic further back will actually have to come to a stop. This is what sometimes causes those inexplicable traffic jams which seem to have no cause.
Don't rubber neck at accidents. You could have your own! Also it slows down the traffic in the same way as over braking and will increase the severity of the accidents impact to other traffic.
If the vehicle behind you is driving too close for comfort don't slam your brakes on or start playing stupid games. Pull over and let them pass.
If you breakdown
Stopping on the motorway hard shoulder is very dangerous; you should only stop in an emergency or if directed to do so by signs. Each year in the UK, about 250 people are killed or injured in accidents on hard shoulders. But if you do have to stop...
Get your car as far off the road as possible using the hard shoulder where available. A leave your wheels turned away from the road so that if your car is caught it won't be pushed into the road.
Put your hazard lights on and if visibility is poor put your sidelights on.
Leave the vehicle using left hand doors and stay out of the vehicle.
Lock all your doors except for the front passenger door
Walk to the nearest emergency telephone following the arrows or marker provided at the side of most motorways.
Face the oncoming traffic while using a phone so that you be aware of any traffic which looks like it may be on a collision course with you or your vehicle. If you have a mobile you can use this from the side of the road, away from the traffic.
Wait near but not in your vehicle for help to arrive. If possible climb up the embankment to get as far from the traffic as you need.
If you are alone and feel vulnerable waiting outside your car then wait in your car in the passenger seat ( This looks like you are waiting for another person, i.e. the driver, and is safer) and put your seatbelt on and lock the doors.