Motorway Driving Lessons

On this page, we detail everything you will be learning with your driving instructor during the lesson. Even before driving on regular roads, you need to regularly check your:

  • Brakes
  • Lights
  • Indicators
  • Mirrors
  • Windscreen wipers and washers
  • Oil and coolant
  • Emergency kit

Checking everything will increase your safety and the safety of other drivers. These preparations becomes even more crucial before driving on a motorway because you are travelling at a higher speed. Be especially careful with:

  • Fuel – make sure you won’t run out, you consume more at higher speeds;
  • Tyres – make sure they are inflated to the pressure recommended by your car manufacturer for your motorway speed and load;
  • Seat belts and child restraints – make sure all are being worn and are properly adjusted;
  • Load or luggage – make sure articles are secure so they do not fall or move around whilst traveling.

Before you start driving on the motorway

  • Plan your journey and make sure your Sat Nav is securely fastened without obstructing the windscreen view;
  • Make sure you are fit to drive. Illness, stress or depression can affect your ability to drive safely;
  • Rest well so you can start fresh;
  • Make sure your seating is adjusted to a comfortable position;
  • Keep the vehicle well ventilated;
  • Do not drive after drinking alcohol – even low levels of alcohol reduce your driving ability, especially at motorway speeds;
  • Take a break at a motorway service station or rest area to prevent drowsiness and to sharpen concentration;
  • Take a break every two hours or less. Never drive beyond three hours at a stretch.

Joining the motorway

As you approach from the slip road you must give way to traffic on the motorway. Adjust your speed so you can join the left-hand lane of the motorway in a safe gap and at a speed appropriate to the traffic in that lane.

Driving on the motorway

Because of the high speeds check your speedometer regularly or activate your cruise control if you have it. Because you are travelling at a higher speed, your stopping distance greatly increases. You will need to look further ahead and use your mirrors earlier than on regular roads.

Speed and stopping distances

Observe the speed limits indicated in the Highway Code and keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front. The UK now has many Smart Motorways that enforce variable speed limits anywhere on the route.

Remember that the stopping distances indicated are for dry conditions when roads are wet or icy stopping distances can be double or more. Follow the two-second rule – as the vehicle in front passes a bridge column, road sign or other stationary marker say “only a fool breaks the two-second rule”. If you arrive at the marker before you finish the sentence you are travelling too close. In fog always be able to stop within your range of vision.

Road and traffic conditions

Information is available from travel bulletins. Many Sat Navs will also detail traffic conditions along your selected route. We recommend downloading the ‘Live Traffic Info’ app by Highways England. It allows you to view the CCTV cameras dotted along the motorway network giving you a real-time opportunity to assess traffic conditions. Download for Apple or Android.

Lane discipline

Keep left except when overtaking. Use your mirrors, ensure that the lane you wish to enter is clear ahead and behind, signal your intention in good time and be sure it is safe before you manoeuvre. Do not hog the outside lanes. The only time when you may overtake on the left is if traffic is moving in queues and the queue on your right is moving slower than you. Never use the hard shoulder as a lane.

Motorway reflective studs

There are four kinds of studs:

  • Green – slip roads. Green is GO, so to go somewhere off the motorway you would use the slip road.
  • Red – hard shoulder. Red is an emergency colour. The hard shoulder is only used in an emergency.
  • White – between lanes. White is easy to remember as the studs mark the lanes like regular roads.
  • Amber – central reservation.

If you’re driving in heavy fog and can see red to the left and white to the right, you’re in the first lane. If you see white on both sides, you’re in the middle lane. If you see white on the left and amber on the right, you’re in the third lane.

Motorway roadworks

Observe the signs instructing you to get into the correct lane for your vehicle.

Signal and get into the lane in good time. Keep within the temporary speed limits, at contraflows, they are not just good advice, the temporary speed limit will usually be mandatory and commonly enforced using Average Speed Check cameras. Maintain a safe stopping distance. Concentrate on the road ahead, distractions at roadworks cause accidents.

Motorway Matrix Signs

In normal conditions, these signs are blank. If amber lights are flashing, there is a danger ahead and the signs will also indicate a temporary maximum speed, a closure or a message such as fog warnings. On some motorways, the signals will be on the central reservation and apply to all lanes. Matrix signs also inform you of the distance and time to the next junction.

On busier motorways, the signals are overhead – one for each lane. When the danger has passed, the next signal will show the end of restriction sign with no flashing lights. If red lights are flashing on a signal you must not go beyond that signal.

Leaving the motorway

Remember your motorway exit number so that you are in the left-hand lane in good time. Your Sat Nav will also give you plenty of notice in advance. Use the countdown signs which appear at 300 yards, 200 yards and 100 yards before the exit slip road.

Reduce your speed and signal left well before entering the slip road. Look out for signs and lanes in the slip road. Sometimes there will be sharp bends requiring a much slower speed than you have been using on the motorway. You will be required to slow down a lot sooner than you think so keep an eye on your speedometer.

Common errors when driving on the motorway

Because motorway driving is still not a mandatory part of the practical driving test, many drivers have developed bad habits:

  • Driving too close to the vehicle in front;
  • Not signalling early enough;
  • Driving too fast for the conditions;
  • Continuing to use the middle or outer lane when an inner lane is clear;
  • Speeding due to lateness;
  • Driving when tired.

This is why taking motorway driving lessons after you have passed your test is a good way to greatly increase your safety and the safety of other drivers. Higher speeds on the motorway result in greater risks. Don’t leave it to chance and book you motorway driving lesson below.

Pass Plus driving lessons

Drivers have the option of taking a Pass Plus driving course after they have passed their practical driving test. It mainly involves driving on the motorway. There is no test at the end and you could save up to 40% on your first car insurance policy.