Motorway Driving Lesson

I had to travel up to Reading recently on the M4 motorway, and from my experience, I would advise any newly qualified driver to think about having a motorway driving lesson with an ADI before venturing out alone on a UK motorway.

Motorways are supposed to be the safest roads to drive on, but the attitude of the many drivers I encountered yesterday, means that safety is last thing on many driver's mind, they are so in a hurry to get where they are going, that they forget about all the common sense rules they were taught when they were learning to drive. The most common problem encountered was tail-gating where a car drives so close behind you, that all you can see in through your rear windscreen is a big car or van. The stopping distance for a car travelling at 70mph (the speed limit on a motorway) is 96 metres (315 feet), yet you will see cars leaving as little as a 2 metre gap between it and the car in front, and they are also travelling at speeds well in excess of the 70mph speed limit.

I was in a driving school branded vehicle, but that in no way contributed to the cause of the tail-gating, these drivers are just in the habit of being in a hurry and want everyone to get at out their way on the motorway.

Another problem you will encounter on the motorway that you need driving lessons to deal with is people changing lanes without properly making sure that it is safe to do so. Because of the aforementioned problem of tail-gaiting or inadequate separation distance, I always leave a large safety gap between myself and the car in front of me, however cars in the left hand lane when I'm overtaking them see this gap as their cue to flick the indicators and move immediately in front of me regardless of the fact that it is not safe, causing me to have to slow down to get back my safety buffer zone.

You will also encounter people overtaking you and then immediately cutting in front of your car. If you happen to have recently passed your test, and find yourself having to drive on the motorway, then here are a few tips to keep to safe.

  • It is better to arrive late, than to never arrive, so leave enough time for you to complete your motorway journey. No matter what other road users are doing, speed limits are there for your own safety, so obey them.

  • Use the 2 second rule to make sure you have a safe gap between you and the car in front of you, if a car pulls into your safety gap, slow down and regain the gap.

  • Always drive on the left, and use the middle or right hand lanes for overtaking only, making sure that when you move back into the left lane you give the overtaken car enough space. A good way of knowing this is to wait until the overtaken vehicle appears in the left mirror.

  • Because every other driver is doing something, doesn't make it right or safe, do not tail gate, or try to intimidate other road users by driving close behind them on the motorway.

  • Do not drive when you are tired, if you start to feel sleepy, wind down the windows to allow some fresh air in, and stop at the nearest motorway service station, DONT stop on the hard shoulder.

  • There is more information about motorway driving in the DSA's The Official Driving Manual .

    If you would like to book a 2hr motorway driving lesson with me in north London that would take you on the M1 or M25 then give me a call on 07956233032.


    1. Anonymous6:55 am

      One of the major annoyances with motorway driving is the increasing problem of people remaining in the fast lane or middle lane when the road is clear ahead. It is due to this that there is so much tailgating and overtaking on the inside. It also adds enormously to congestion.

      I read somewhere that often the reason people don't move over to the left is that they are scared of driving on the motorway and think that staying in the same lane is safer. I personally think it is more to do with selfishness, laziness and lack of concentration. Either way, it needs to be addressed somehow in the driving test or by police enforcement.

    2. Anonymous10:52 pm

      I would tend to agree. I used to do around 15,000 miles a year on the motorways in Kent and occasionally round or through London, and the standard of motorway driving then, 10 years ago was much higher than what it is now.

      After a break from driving (I live in a large northern city and don't need to drive,) I had a little run down south to Kent, and the standard of driving that I saw can be summed up in one word: Dangerous.

      Then I hit the M25.

      Just a little bit more distance between yourself and the car in front, keeping a decent lane discipline, and you'll get there in around the same time and in much better physical and mental condition than if you tailgate and harrass other road users.

      Finally (and a little o/t,) what's with the 50 limit on the A2 starting well before the Black Prince now? I'm sure it was well after the Danson before...

    3. I'm just learning to drive and I'm not looking forward to going on the motorway when I pass. At the weekend my bf was driving us along the M4, chocka with traffic and there were streams of motorbikes driving between the lines of cars, cars and even lorry front ends (tractor units?) going down the hard shoulder at top speed just to try and get ahead. Was quite satisfying to see the lorry being chased by an unmarked police car, but there was some really scarily bad driving going on.

    4. Anonymous7:59 pm

      I'd like to see the police taking tail-gating more seriously and prosecuting more divers who are guilty of it.
      I think it's a very serious danger and contributes to many accidents on motorways.

    5. Anonymous11:26 pm

      If all cars had the new collision avoidance fitted like Volvo have done. There would be a lot less accidents

    6. That is good advice any driver can benefit, regardless of being newly qualified or old hat.




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