Jakes Driving School Blog

Jakes Driving School Blog

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Motorway Driving and Tuition

Motorway driving is not covered on the UK driving syllabus as learner drivers are not allowed to drive on Motorways! I feel it's important for all drivers to be able to drive confidently and skilfully on all types of road. Pass plus is available but not compulsory It is thereforea good idea that learner drivers carry out motorway training and I am one of the driving instructors in Gloucester that offers motorway training. Statistically the motorway network that we have contains our safest roads. On the motorway everyone is travelling the same way at all times with minimal obstruction (other than roadwork’s) which makes the motorway driving experience safer and faster. But it something goes wrong it can often result in a more serious collision as the collision is at higher speed. Being one of the few driving schools in Gloucester that heavily promotes Motorway tuition, I teach about advanced forward planning as everything is happening much faster and hazards can develop very fast. Especially when cars in front brake hard. Motorway driving can get boring but remain focused as sometimes the situation can change without much warning. Key points when travelling on the motorway are driving position and observation. A motorway driving lesson will improve any motorway driving skills that you already have. When I teach driving lessons in Gloucester  before they have passed their driving test I take them on the dual carriageways a lot which helps them develop motorway style driving before they get to the motorway. With the motorway driving I take the pupils on the complex junctions where they have to follow designated lanes and signs which really helps them with there advanced forward planning. And finally before setting out on the motorway it is important that you have adequate fuel and that the vehicle is fit for the motorway. Plan your route even if you have a sat nav as the sat nav could stop working. Make sure you have breakdown cover and have a safety triangle in the boot and a high visual vest. If you breakdown call for help and get out of the vehicle and walk well away from the hard shoulder. Many new drivers worry about their first time alone on a motorway. Motorways are safer, than normal roads, but they are also faster. Sometimes things do happen quicker, and you have to concentrate. When you are on the main carriageway of the motorway, remain in the first lane until you get used to the speed. If you need to overtake you must return to the first lane as soon as possible but only if its safe to do so! Many motorists try to stay in the overtaking lanes for normal driving. This is bad practice and causes inconvenience and tailbacks and annoys other users. There are two types of motorway, rural and urban. You need to think of them as quiet and busy. Quiet motorways are boring, so you need to concentrate on the road and traffic conditions way ahead. Busy motorways need your attention all around you rather than just focused ahead. Motorways are like dual carriageways only safer. They are safer because every motorway user is travelling in the same direction and at similar speeds. Another reason why motorways are safer is due to the fact that traffic is restricted to those who can make best use of it i.e. no pedestrians, cyclists, moped, no L drivers (except HGV), agricultural vehicles, and animals. Motorways are also safer because there are no sharp bends, no oncoming traffic, no right turn, and no roundabouts. The lanes are always wide, and well marked, and are usually straight for long distances. Remember you are not allowed to reverse, cross the central reservation, or to drive in the wrong direction on motorways. On urban (busy) motorways each lane of traffic has an electronic signal system which applies to traffic in each lane. Care needs to be taken to make sure you know the various signals and what they mean. Motorway signs are being used with increasing frequency to warn you of hold ups or accidents ahead. When joining a motorway you usually join from a roundabout or a main road by means of a slip road. This leads to an acceleration lane. The rule here is not to interfere with the traffic already on the motorway. Make sure your speed is the same as the traffic already on the motorway. Vehicles already on the motorway usually realise you need to join the main carriageway and they try and move over to the other lane. (This is not always possible if the traffic is busy). This makes room for you to join the first lane of the motorway. Mirrors and signals must be used correctly to avoid interfering with the following traffic. Full and proper observation as you enter usually involves looking over your right shoulder as well as using your door mirrors. Don't rely on mirrors alone. To get off the motorway the normal procedure is to look for the first advance warning sign (1 mile from the exit). This sign gives the exit number and the road number. At half a mile from the exit a second sign identifies the towns for the exit. Then at 300 yards from the deceleration lane there is a three line countdown marker, (at this point you should begin to signal left to say you are turning off - but don't slow down yet), followed by the 200 yd and 100 yd marker signs. Only when you have crossed into the deceleration lane should you begin to slow down. Once you get back on to ordinary roads again, you need to watch your speed until you are acclimatised to the new lower speeds on the road. Don't forget too, that these roads are likely to have roundabouts, oncoming traffic, and sharp bends on them.I recently drove along the M42 just as they were preparing to allow traffic to use a fourth lane, during peak periods, in a bid to beat congestion. The fourth lane is the hard shoulder. I saw for myself the preparations that were being made, including the addition of emergency lay-bys - so that road users who break down can hopefully make it to the refuges which are installed at 500-metre intervals. When the hard shoulder is in use for traffic there will be a 50 mph limit across all lanes of the motorway. There has been much froth about the danger it poses for drivers. But, given the need to make best use of limited road space and to keep traffic moving, it is something that should be applauded. And that includes applause from the greens. Standing traffic is burning fossil fuel and producing pollution for nothing - something that helps no-one, except those who own the oil wells and the refineries! In a recent report the government agency predicted that if all drivers stuck to 70mph, the UK’s carbon emissions would be cut by 1.4 million tonnes. The Sustainable Development Commission argued against traditional speed cameras saying that drivers slam on the brakes as they approach and then speed off after.  Average speed cameras encourage more smoother driving, which, it argues is more environmentally friendly. The average speed camera devices lead to fewer accidents and speeding tickets on the roads where they are installed than normal speed cameras, a new report by the Government’s environmental advisers claims. The government is looking to extend this beyond motorways with a new generation of cameras that can track journeys over a network of streets. This could mean speed cameras being fitted on all residential roads with a speed limit of 20 mph.Quite how this would work in practice is unclear. The average speed cameras work by calculating the distance travelled and the time taken, arriving at an average speed. It is rare indeed to be able to drive at anything approaching the speed limit on Britain’s crowded urban streets. We may not have the choice of speed soon as the report goes further, suggesting capping all cars to make it impossible to break the speed limit. Given that the courts sometimes accept special reasons for speeding such as an emergency this would be an interesting development

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