Staying safe on the motorways

Here we offer helpful advice to make sure your journey on the motorway network is a safe one.

Drive safe

  • Belt up - seat belts save lives.

  • Avoid distractions - keep your eyes on the road at all times.

  • Don’t drink drive - remember you could still be over the limit the next day.

  • Check your speed - the speed limit is a limit not a target.  In some road conditions, including fog and rain even driving at the speed limit could be too fast.

Only a fool breaks the two second rule!

In dry conditions drivers are advised to keep a two second gap between themselves and the vehicle in front. In poor conditions, leave a bigger gap.

As the vehicle in front passes a fixed point, say “only a fool breaks the two second rule”.  If you pass the fixed point before you’ve finished saying it, then you’re too close and should leave a bigger gap.

Hard shoulder safety

If you break down on the motorway:

  • Pull over to the hard shoulder as far to the left as possible.

  • Turn on your hazard warning lights.

  • Leave via the left hand door.

  • Walk to an emergency telephone on your side of the carriageway (follow the arrows on the posts) – the telephone is free of charge and connects directly to an operator. Always face the traffic when you speak on the phone.

  • Return and wait near your vehicle (well away from the carriageway and hard shoulder).

Tiredness kills - take a break!

Don’t fight signs of tiredness.  If you’re on a long journey make sure you take a 15 minute break at least every two hours.

Avoid starting long journeys between midnight and 4am when you are naturally tired.

Smart motorways

Some motorways in England are using technology to manage congestion. These are known as smart motorways.

On a smart motorway:

  • Never drive under a red “X”.

  • Keep to the speed limit shown on the gantries.

  • A solid white line indicates the hard shoulder - don’t drive in it unless directed.

  • A broken white line indicates a normal running lane.

  • Use the refuge areas for emergencies if there’s no hard shoulder.

  • Put your hazard lights on if you break down.

Last updated: Wednesday, 26 July 2023