A guide to driving on the motorway for the first time

Driving on the motorway for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. Here’s how to do it safely. 

Daniel Hutson From the Motor team
minute read

How to drive safely

Here are a few ways to drive safer on the road:

• Know the speed limits and stick to them

• Practice. The more time you spend on the roads, the more confident you’ll feel

• Turn off your phone. Don’t let yourself be distracted by ringing and message alerts

• Take lots of breaks. Tiredness is said to cause as many as 3,000 accidents a year in the UK. A 10-minute coffee break will make you feel refreshed

• Never drink and drive. This should go without saying, but a reminder never hurts.

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The rules of motorway driving

• Stay on the inside lane unless you’re overtaking

• Remember your stopping distances – give yourself ample time to react

• Allow a two-second gap between you and the car in front

• If the roads are wet or icy, make it a four-second gap between you and the car ahead

• Stick to the speed limit

• Keep checking your mirrors

• Take a break every two hours so you don’t get tired.

How to drive on a smart motorway

You may not know the term ‘smart motorway’, but chances are you’ve been on one. On smart motorways, a control centre manages the traffic using technology. So it might change the speed limit at busy times, or open the hard shoulder to cars.  

When driving on a smart motorway, there are a few rules to remember: 

• Keep an eye out for changing speed limits and stick to them


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• Don’t drive on the hard shoulder unless you’re told to. A solid white line will tell you it’s the hard shoulder. If it’s a driving lane, you’ll see a broken white line

• A red ‘X’ means the lane is closed, so don’t drive in it.

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