overcoming the fear
So you think you have driven at a decent speed on a normal road? Well think again. On a Motorway, EVERYONE is driving fast and they are coming at you from all angles. That being said, Motorway driving is actually pretty simple and straight forward as long as you stick to the rules:
Advice for overcoming fear
1) Pick your moment
Firstly, if you are venturing onto the motorway for the first time, pick a sensible time to do so. Avoid rush hour, lunchtimes, roadwork hotspots and dark nights. Try the motorway for the first time when it’s quiet.
2) Join up
Use the sliproad as your runway. Imagine you are a plane about to take off and you have to get up to a certain speed before you can fly. Use this ‘runway’ to check on the speed of the traffic you are joining and match it. You can then indicate and blend into a nice little gap.
3) Get up to speed
Once you are up to speed, maintain it. The limit is 70MPH and you should really try and keep to this speed. Going too slowly on a motorway is just as dangerous as going too fast.
4) Keep your distance
They say two seconds is the best distance between you and the driver in front and that two seconds will give you a bit of breathing space, allow you to have think about a maneuver if you need to overtake, and brake if the traffic slows.
5) Mirror, signal, maneuver
Yes you probably had this bludgeoned into you a million times during all those hours of driving lessons, but that’s because it is the single most important thing to do. Not only are you letting people know what move you are about to make, but you are also checking your mirrors to see if the move you want to make is safe.
6) Use the correct lane
It’s a misconception that the middle lane is the lane you should drive in and the outside lane is for ‘slow cars’. It’s not true – if everyone was driving at 70MPH then the motorways would move nicely and steadily in the slow lane! In real life there are trucks that are restricted to 56MPH so there will always be a need to overtake. The middle lane and ‘fast’ lane should be used for overtaking only, and in fact there are new laws in place that mean you could be fined for sitting in the middle lane for long periods of time without overtaking.
7) Eyes on the road
Keep your eye on everything that is going on around you. Be aware of who is behind you and along side you. Keep an eye on how fast people approach you from behind so that if you decide to move out, you can get up to their speed.
8) Don’t get distracted
Concentrate! If anything crops up while you are driving on the motorway – your phone rings, your nose runs, your throat is dry – ignore it! Driving on the motorway means that you are responsible for the safety of other drivers as well as yourself so you must make it your number one priority.
Top tip: If you have a friend/family member/colleague who has been driving for a few years and makes a good passenger then bring them along for the ride. Ask them to give you hints and tips as you drive, including getting their buy in if you want to make a maneuver. You’ll be surprised how quickly you pick up motorway driving, but having a trusted advisor there will give you a little extra boost of confidence.
Above all, drive safely and be sensible – you’ll nail it!