Here are our Top Motorway Driving Tips:
- Create and keep a bubble of space in front, behind and at the sides
- Beware of the blind-spot in drivers’ side mirrors and keep slightly in front or behind the vehicle to the side, not right alongside it
- Beware of HGVs slowing on hills forcing faster traffic right as they overtake
- Beware of traffic joining from slip roads at service stations or junctions forcing traffic right
Statistically, per passenger mile, they’re our safest roads, but motorways have their own unique hazards which require our constant awareness and vigilance.
We all know about the boredom that can set in as you travel in a queue of vehicles at 60 or 70 mph just as we know how the monotony of staring at the back of the one ahead can dull your senses.
We know the absolute and irresponsible stupidity of following too close to the person in front; but, what do you do if someone behind is tailgating you a few feet from your back bumper? If they won’t slow and increase the gap, the only thing you can do is allow a bigger space in front so if you do have to brake it need not be so severe.
It’s all about creating a `bubble’ of space around you and if that ‘bubble’ is insufficient behind you, then you need to increase it in front. It’s not just behind and in front you need to think about, because that ‘bubble’ should extend to the side too, in case you pull out to overtake or the driver on your right makes a late decision to go left, perhaps only seeing the junction they want at the last minute. So, whenever possible you need to avoid staying alongside another vehicle.
There is another very good reason why you should create and keep that `bubble’ to your side and it’s about avoiding the blind spot.
A driver pulling out to the right may – if you’re lucky – check their rear and side mirrors first and if you are especially lucky may even make what a bike rider would call the `life saver’, that little sideways turn of the head so that their peripheral vision can pick up anything the side mirror doesn’t.
Other than when overtaking you shouldn’t stay alongside others, especially not big vans or lorries. Their mirrors may well not pick you up if you are alongside and perhaps just behind the cab and the driver won’t know you are there until it is too late.
The bubble’ and the blind spot’ – worth remembering the next time you go on a motorway.
Keep your eye on other traffic
There are other hazards which are just as dangerous and even more common but which can be easily managed.
One of the biggest causes of motorway collisions is the situation where a lorry on the inside lane pulls out to overtake at perhaps the last minute, forcing the middle lane vehicle to either brake or move right into the outside lane causing a ripple of braking throughout the following traffic.
If caught by surprise it is all too easy to suddenly find your windscreen filled with the rear bumper of another car, van or wagon, but really you should be aware of this danger and looking, not just for brake lights, but at what’s going on in the lane or lanes to your left.
Is there a slip road from a service station or junction coming up, if so it could force lane one (slow lane) traffic to move right? Similarly, you should be aware of something similar if the road is hilly because as a heavy lorry crawls up it the driver of a lighter one behind may well pull out for an overtake to avoid slowing down and losing momentum.
It is worth being prepared for this when caravans are out and about in the touring season.
Make and keep that space and always think about what’s happening ahead, across all the lanes.