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Stan’s motorway driving tips

November 29, 2006
I am not, nor have I ever been, a traffic officer.

I would consider myself to be a competent and careful driver (Does this sound familiar? OK – I’ve pinched it from the Road Traffic Act, so sue me)

I do sometimes wonder whether the Highway Code has gone out of print, because more and more people seem to be doing exactly what they like on the roads. I use the motorways a lot, so I would just like to give a few tips to help smooth the flow of traffic and make life easier for everyone.

1 – That dotted white line at the end of the slip road as you join the motorway has a special meaning. It means “GIVE WAY” to traffic already on the motorway. Putting on your indicators does not suddenly create a gap that is safe for you to enter. Don’t rely on people in Lane 1 moving over or slowing down to let you in. It just might not be possible. One day you’ll cut up a 40 tonne lorry and see what happens!

2 – Once on the motorway, as with joining, your indicators cannot magically create space. Put them on to let people know you want to move out, but don’t assume that just because they are on you can go. This also applies to those of you who start to manoeuvre and THEN start indicating as an afterthought.

3 – When it is dark and throwing down with rain, you won’t be any safer just because you can read the small print on the dealer sticker of the car in front. Yes, you will know when they start braking, but by the time you react, you may find that sticker is plastered across your face.

4 – Lorry drivers – Most of you are limited to 56mph. This means that when you are overtaking another lorry travelling at 56mph, it takes forever to get past. On two lane motorways, look in your rear view mirror and see the long, long line of cars that are also limited to 56mph because you were too stupid to realise you couldn’t get past another truck!

5 – Hard shoulders are very dangerous places to be. This does not mean that it is safer to read your map, newspaper, meeting notes or text messages whilst barrelling down Lane 3 at 90mph. Some entrepreneurs have created little areas of tranquillity where you can stop and read for up to two hours without being charged for it. They make up for this free car parking concession by charging you a fiver for a cup of warm water and milk with a few bits of an old tea bag thrown in.

6 – Coming to the junction you want to leave at? The Highways Agency have very thoughtfully provided huge blue signs with junction numbers and destinations on them to give you a bit of a clue. To make things even simpler, they have put more than one sign up for each junction. You’ll get at least a mile’s warning of an impending junction, then another one with half a mile to go and then finally another one at the junction. Unless you are Mr Magoo, these signs will be visible long before you reach them, so why do you leave it to the very last minute to cut across three lanes of traffic to make your exit?

If you lot can think of any more, please leave a comment. Let’s make the roads safer, because safety cameras can’t do it all on their own!

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    November 29, 2006 14:20

    Number 6 — except when the HA don’t. Junction 29 of the M5 (northbound), where the two main roads out of the West Country divide, has all of 400 yards between the first sign and where the sliproad leaves the motorway.

    Curiously, cutting across three lanes of traffic is *less* common here than on other parts of the motorway network…

  2. ExtraSpecialCopper permalink
    November 29, 2006 14:36

    Lane 3 is not just for BMWs, Mercedes and other high value cars.

    If Lane 2 is free, use it. Dont force people to “overtake” in Lane 2 as you want to stick religiously to 69mph in Lane 3

  3. PC Bloggs permalink
    November 29, 2006 17:22

    Same goes for Lane 1, ESP. Just because it’s dark and you’re scared to drive too close to the edge of the road doesn’t mean you should sit in Lane 2 at 45mph. Sometimes lorries want to overtake too and they can’t use Lane 3!

  4. ted permalink
    November 29, 2006 23:38

    If you are midle class it does not mean you need to stay in the middle lane.

    Although a better reason was allegedly once given by a driver stopped by the traffic on the eastbound M8 approaching the Kingston Bridge after spending several miles in the centre lane on an otherwise empty motorway (nightshift). Asked why she did not move into the nearside lane she replied “but this is the lane that goes to Edinburgh”.
    In a strange way she had a point. Due to the numerous junctions and slip roads though central Glasgow a driver in the outer or inner lane would have to change lanes. The centre lane led eventually to the Edinburgh turnoff 10 miles ahead without needing to do any of thse nasty lane change thingies through Glasgow.

  5. gonorr permalink
    November 30, 2006 05:41

    foglights on when its not foggy is my personal gripe. It’s not cool and doesn’t make you look like a racing driving.

  6. the_karlos permalink
    November 30, 2006 09:45

    When there are roadworks and it says ‘Lane closed’ they really really mean it. Of course you could just travel along the soon to be closed lane at 70mph until you get to within 10 yards of the cones and then swerve right…

  7. Annette permalink
    November 30, 2006 12:49

    My pet hate is the drivers that drive to slow!
    Now, what I mean is they really drive me mad!(no pun intended)
    When it says 30m.p.h. it means 30m.p.h. NOT 20 or 25 m.p.h.
    If they are uncomfortable about that speed why are they driving?
    What would they do on the motorways? They should take a refresher course!

  8. Anonymous permalink
    November 30, 2006 13:09

    CLOD – Centre Lane Ony Driver
    BAMBI – Better Apply Makeup Before Impact
    DWOMP – Drives Whilst On Mobile Phone
    BARRIED – any ‘spruced’ up banger with loud exhaust
    FLOWER – Fog Lights On When Encountering Rain

    But the bit that does my head in – is the multimillion pound system that is the new matrix signs – which never ever seem to be correct/up-to-date.

  9. busybizzie permalink
    November 30, 2006 14:27

    Er, Annette,
    That’s a maximum speed. You are actually allowed to go slower.

  10. gonorr permalink
    November 30, 2006 17:57

    I do believe the signs indicate the limit, not the target ;-p

  11. Annette permalink
    November 30, 2006 18:05

    busybizzie:
    Yes I realise that! But it is infuriating when following someone going slower!
    This when “road rage ” happens.

  12. PC South West permalink
    November 30, 2006 19:59

    The average motor car is in fact the same as the federation Starship Enterprise!!

    The turning on or the indicators is the raising of the ships shields, therefore offering protection from any kind of impact by klingons or other vehicles.

    Honest!!

  13. m&mbm permalink
    December 2, 2006 22:25

    Annette, I hope you remember your sentiments re 30 when you’re old, disabled, can’t walk far, and aware your brain doesn’t work as fast as it used to. Yes, slow drivers are exasperating, but they have the same rights to be on the road as the rest of us.

    I don’t like the Andy Up-Yer-*rses, I don’t like the Last Minute Larries or the Fog Light Freds. And what about the Two Speed Tessas? (0 or 40. Everywhere.)

    Is the inside lane infectious, or something? Nobody likes it.

  14. Anonymous permalink
    January 17, 2007 23:21

    I would like to suggest that all Nissan Micras are destroyed.

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