Motorway Driving for the First Time
by Jonathan Clensy |
posted 15 September 2017
For drivers who have newly passed their test, the first time they ever venture out into the three-lane highway can be a very daunting moment.
However, with some initial preparation, you shouldn’t be put off using the countries motorways. Although the type of driving on motorways is different to what you will have done while learning to drive, statistically they are the safest roads to drive on with a much lower crash rate per mile than all other types of roads, mainly because they are simpler than other roads with fewer hazards – other vehicles joining and leaving the motorway do so in a predictable manner, the different traffic flows are kept separate with central reservations and pedestrians, cyclists and other non-motorised forms of transport are prohibited.
'Insure the Box' who specialises in arranging insurance for new and young drivers have some advice for those about to drive on a motorway for the first time. Firstly, they recommend that you should familiarise yourself with the Motorway section of the Highway Code so you feel comfortable with the rules, speed limits and layout of the motorway.
It is also important to be aware of the extended stopping distances when travelling at speed. It is vital to leave yourself a big enough space to the vehicle in front in the event of something unexpected happening and you find yourself needing to make an emergency stop. Being aware of the weather conditions is more important than ever when travelling at speed. According to the Highway Code at 70mph in dry conditions you will need at least 96 metres to be able to stop your vehicle – however Brake, the road safety charity challenge this figure believing that the true figure is more like 121 metres. In the wet this distance is doubled and in the snow and ice the distance can be multiplied by 10. That means if you were foolish enough to be travelling at 70mph in snowy conditions it could take you over 1km to bring your vehicle to a stop!
Planning your journey before you set off is also important. 'Insure the Box' advise that you should make a mental note of the junction numbers where you will be joining and leaving the motorway; obviously, it's not safe to use a map while driving and don't rely on satellite navigation.
Make sure that your car is safe to drive – check your oil levels, brake and windscreen washer fluid and your tyre pressures. And, especially as it is your first time, consider bringing along a more experienced driver such as a friend, parent or another relative for reassurance.
Finally, you might want to consider Pass Plus training to help you learn how to drive on the motorway with guidance from an approved instructor.
Of course, later this year, motorway driving will be one of the skills that new drivers will learn before they take their test. Until then, following the above advice will help you head out onto the motorway network with more confidence.