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5 Ways to Practise Good Motorway Etiquette

Tue, 18/07/2017
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Tailgating, middle lane hogging, and driving down closed lanes – these are just some of the annoying and potentially dangerous driving habits the police have been clamping down on. But when it comes to driving on the motorway, the high speed of the traffic can escalate a bad habit from irritating to dangerous. Motorway etiquette is not just a matter of courtesy, but also safety. So what can drivers do to ensure everyone is safe and happy on the motorway? Here are our five top tips:

 1.       Respect Lane Closure Signs

Closed lanes on motorways are indicated using red crosses on the gantries over the motorway. Using a closed lane can be potentially dangerous. The red cross means that the lane is closed because of a breakdown or accident, and the lane is being kept clear for the safety of drivers and any emergency services.

However, when you are queuing patiently (or sort of patiently) in your lane, you might happen to see a car zooming down the closed lane, aiming to avoid the queue and jump back into the lane much later down the line – or simply get off at the next junction. However, the police are clamping down on this selfish behaviour, issuing £100 and three penalty points to offenders.

 2.       Keep the Hard Shoulder Clear

Similar to driving down closed lanes, the hard shoulder may also seem like an attractive way to cut the queues and sneak back into your lane later. However, this is dangerous because if you come across someone who is using the hard shoulder for its actual purpose – for example if they have broken down – you might find yourself having to slow down very quickly and try to get back into your lane to avoid them. The amount of time you save just isn’t worth the risk of getting into an accident, or being caught by the police as this red Nissan Juke did.

Of course, sometimes the hard shoulder is opened up for driving on smart motorways, for example when there is heavy congestion, and at that time it is acceptable to use it.

 3.       Don’t Hog the Middle Lane

It’s a good courtesy to move from the inside lane to the middle lane to help other cars get off the slip road more easily – if it’s safe to do so. And it’s normal behaviour to use the middle lane to overtake. What isn’t as acceptable is staying in the middle lane for a longer amount of time instead of moving back to the inside lane when the opportunity arises. Hogging the middle lane can cause congestion and may even require other drivers to perform dangerous manoeuvres. In fact, it’s such a nuisance that it counts as “careless driving” and the police can issue a £100 fine or penalty points to offenders.

 4.       Don’t Tailgate

Not just an issue on the motorway, tailgating is a dangerous practise on any road. It may be a bad habit, or the driver may even begin tailgating intentionally to prevent anyone from cutting in front of them. It can feel aggressive and pushy, and of course if you are too close to the car in front of you it can also be very unsafe as you may not have time to stop if they brake unexpectedly.

Tailgating has become so much of an issue that in 2013 penalties were introduced - a £100 fine and three points on the motorist’s licence.

 5.       Don’t Speed – Especially Through Roadworks

Speeding is dangerous in any situation, but even more so when there are pedestrians nearby. Speeding down the motorway means you’re going at over 70mph, and if you do so through roadworks, this could be very dangerous for the people who are working in the road. Miles and miles of roadworks can be very frustrating for motorists, but the reduced speed limits are there to keep the workers safe – and safety is the highest courtesy we can pay to other road users.

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