Leaving the Motorway

Various signs and markers will indicate when you are coming to the end of a motorway, or to your chosen exit.  You will have plenty of time to follow the instructions and plan ahead, even if on a three or four lane motorway.

As with all motorway driving, drive defensively, making good use of your mirrors to assess surrounding traffic, keeping your distance from other vehicles and anticipating well ahead of time.  Get into lane early, unless you are already in the left-hand lane, using the MSM (mirror, signal, manoeuvre) routine for each lane change.  Always move to the left one lane at a time, never cut straight across into the slip road.

The first sign will occur one mile before the exit, as a junction sign with road numbers that apply to the next exit.

Half a mile before the exit, a sign will inform you of the place names accessible from that exit.

From 270 metres (300 yards) before the exit, countdown markers will indicate the location of the slip road, positioned at 270 metres (300 yards), 180 metres (200 yards), and 90 metres (100 yards).

Remember that the hard should is NOT an exit road, and you should avoid queuing on it.

If you miss your exit, you will need to carry on to the next motorway exit.

End of Motorway

All exits from motorways will have ‘end of motorway’ signs which change the rules that apply to your driving once off the motorway.  You will need to watch out for signs informing you of these different rules, which will include speed limits, two-way traffic, dual carriageway, clearway, motorway link road, part-time traffic lights and so on.

It is crucial that you adjust your driving to the new conditions.  Having driven at speed, everything will appear much slower, and your judgement will be impaired for some time.  Use your speedometer to assess your speed. .  Also be aware that pedestrians, cyclists and other road users may now also use the road.

Weather Conditions & Motorways

Any problems caused by adverse weather conditions are amplified when driving on motorways, and extra caution should always be taken.  Visibility issues in wet weather and fog, road surface grip problems in wet weather, ice or frost, and crosswinds, all present more difficulties when travelling at speed.

There are other articles dealing with adverse weather conditions and driving, but the same rules apply here.  It is important that you ALWAYS follow instructions given by motorway warning signs which are there to assist your safety.

Make sure that you can be seen by using your headlights to help other drivers see you.  Leave appropriate distance for the conditions between you and the surrounding vehicles, reducing your speed to suit the conditions.  Driving is safer at slower speeds.

Anticipate conditions as much as you can, and prepare in plenty of time.

Stopping on Motorways

You should only stop on a motorway in an emergency, to prevent an accident, if told to by a red light, or if the police or road signs and signals tell you that you must.

The hard shoulder should only ever be used in an emergency.

You should never stop to drop off or pick up anyone on the motorway or slip road.

If traffic congestion causes you to slow down or stop on the carriageway, use your hazard warning lights to inform following vehicles in good time, and once seen, turn them off.

Breakdowns on Motorways

Try to reach the next exit or service station if you can.  If not, then you should steer your vehicle onto the hard shoulder as safely as possible, to the left and away from traffic.   Try to point your wheels to the left so that if you are hit, the vehicle will not enter the carriageway.

Always use your hazard warning lights, and in poor light or night time also use your sidelights, to warn other road users of your presence.

Never open the offside doors.  Alert your passengers to the dangers of passing vehicles, and leave the vehicle by the nearside door away from traffic.  Lock all the doors except the front passenger door, and position your passengers near to the vehicle but up on an embankment away from the hard shoulder.

Never attempt to repair your own car on the motorway, or try to place a warning device on the carriageway or hard shoulder.

Instead, try to locate the police-controlled emergency telephones that are situated every mile along the motorway.  These are better than mobile phones as they will provide your location automatically to the relevant services.  You will find marker posts 100 metres (328 feet) apart along the hard shoulder, with a telephone symbol and arrow directing you to the nearest phone on your side of the motorway.  NEVER cross the carriageway or an entry or slip road to reach a phone.  Always keep on the inside of the hard shoulder when looking for the phones.

The emergency telephone will connect you to police control who will put you through to a breakdown service.  Face the traffic whist you talk on the phone.  Be ready to give the number from the phone itself, which will provide the location, details of your vehicle and membership details if you belong to a breakdown service, and details of the fault.  Inform the operator if you are a vulnerable motorist such as a woman travelling alone, or with children.  You will be told approximately how long the wait will be for the breakdown service to arrive.

If you are unable to use the emergency phone, make sure that you note details of your location before you use your phone.  The same marker posts on the side of the hard shoulder will identify your location.

Wait for the emergency vehicle on the bank near your vehicle.   DO NOT WAIT IN YOUR VEHICLE unless another vehicle pulls up near to you and you feel at risk.  You are more likely to be injured by motorway traffic on the hard shoulder than suffer a personal attack.

If you are approached and feel at risk, get into your vehicle and lock all the doors.  You can safely speak to the person through a slightly open window.  Ask them for identification and let them know that the police have been informed.  Someone from the emergency service will be able to prove their identity, and will have your details and information about the breakdown.

If you can’t get your vehicle on to the hard shoulder, use your hazard warning lights and leave the vehicle only when you can safely get off the carriageway on to the hard shoulder embankment.

Once repaired, you can rejoin the motorway by building up your speed on the hard shoulder, and rejoining when it is safe to do so.  Make sure that your hazard warning lights are switched off.

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