7 things you need to know before your first motorway drive

Make a plan for a great drive

The first drive on a motorway can be an intimidating experience. The fear of driving on a motorway is very common, according to a research by RAC, with eight million of Britain’s 38 million drivers claim they ‘hardly ever’ drive on a motorway. Upon confrontation with the fast flowing motorway with distinct 3 lanes of fast-moving traffic, any driver could get nervous but statistically driving on a motorway is much safer than any other type of road. On any other road with quick-moving traffic in various speeds and directions, it can get pretty troublesome to drive but contrary to that on a motorway where everyone is driving in the same speed and direction, it is easier to handle, there are no sharp bends or roundabout to deal with. Although the speed you are traveling in and volume of cars can make you nervous but it all depends on your thought process.

Getting ready for a ride

Do not panic and start your journey by deep breathing, relax prior to your first encounter with driving on a motorway. Thoroughly read through the motorway section of the Highway Code and be comfortable with the rules, speed limits and layout of the motorway. Before your drive acquaint yourself with the route that you'll be taking which includes the junction numbers, it’s not safe to use a map while driving and don’t rely on satellite navigation. It is best to make notes and jot down all the necessary information beforehand. By doing this you will be able to look out for the relevant signs. Keep an eye on the blind spots. Avoid anything that would hinder your concentration during the journey such as mobile phones, gadgets, snacks etc.

Traveling alone is not good

Try to take an experienced driver along for your first drive to accustom yourself with the process of driving on a motorway. It will provide you reassurance while you familiarize with entering, leaving and changing lanes on a motorway.

Drive smartly on the lanes

When entering the motorway make full use of the slip road and gradually build the speed. Drive steadily and stick to the first lane until you get used to the speed. Any type of hesitation can cause a lot of confusion with other drivers so be certain in using your indicators as this will help the other drivers understand what you are doing. Mirrors are essential while driving on a motorway so make sure yours are correctly positioned and clean. Keep a close eye on the mirrors; be assured that you are aware of everything happening around you. Once you have made a decision to move, stick to it. When leaving the motorway, observe the interchange sign to ensure being in the correct lane.

Be careful while overtaking

The speeds of cars around can be pretty crucial to judge so be very careful while overtaking. Ideally any unnecessary overtaking should be avoided. While overtaking use the usual ‘mirror, signal, maneuver’ procedure when moving in and out of lanes. The use of indicators is vital especially while changing lanes. A quick glance over your shoulder before changing the lanes can provide reassurance that nothing is sneaking in your blind spot. Never weave in and out of your lane just to get ahead. It is recommended to watch out for bigger vehicles such as Lorries or trucks as they have much bigger blind spots then you so it is better to keep an adequate distance. Maintaining a safe distance between you and the car in the front especially in wet or icy conditions will be very crucial to avoid accidents. The 2-second rule is a convenient method of arranging your spacing right. Pick a fixed spot such as a lamp post or billboard and when the car in front passes it, start counting 2 seconds. As you stop speaking you should be approaching that same point. Make sure you are aware of the exit junction thoroughly before you need to leave the motorway while exiting keep your speed in check. Absolutely avoid lane hogging and tailgating as it would result in an on-the-spot fine of £100 and 3 points on your license.

Take gap and tea

It is absolutely inadvisable to drive if you're feeling tired so take regular breaks or stop when feeling exhausted. Tiredness can slow your response system which can eventually cause accidents so it is best to take a 15-minute break after at least 2 hours of driving in longer journeys. It is always recommended to stop off, have something to eat, stretch yourself a little, take a small nap and only restart your journey when you feel you're safe for it. Use these stop offs to check your oil levels, brake. Windscreens wash fluid and your tire pressures to assure the condition of the car.

Do not cross the defined speed limits

The speed limit on the motorway is 70m/h but it can vary on the stretch of the road so be alert and look for signs indicating speed limit changes and warning signs. Watch out for variable speed limits as they are executed by the Highways Agency to help ease traffic flow at busy times. Do not rubberneck! It causes congestion and furthermore accidents so do not stop to stare at the accidents on the other sides of the motorway. Closely observed the countdown markers, each bar represents 100 yards; they indicate so far away the motorway exit is so it'll guide you as you prepare to cross over to the slip road. Try to keep the car ventilated. In case of poor visibility, turn on your car hazard lights to warn other drivers and leave your sidelights on. If there are bad weather conditions then drive slowly as this will reduce the stress of the nerve wrecking situation. In case of a breakdown, quickly shift to the hard shoulder as soon as possible. Once you are at the stop, call for help either with the use of your own phone or by orange emergency phones at the side of the motorway.

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