Motorway driving Part two
Back in the 70’s and early 80’s the government Department of Transport used TV advertising space to give useful information in the form of guidance for various new (ish) road systems and things like Panda crossings. Quite why these have disappeared I don’t know but it is probably to do with money or the lack thereof.
One thing which would be useful and always will be as long as new drivers keep coming into being is motorway driving and especially joining and leaving motorways. As there is no requirement for any formal training for motorway driving, experienced drivers often find that the joining and leaving lanes are not used properly due to that signal lack in any education.
Part two. Lane discipline
I know a lot of people have difficulty in maintaining lane discipline because they haven’t been taught to use their mirrors as part of their initial training. Quite why this is the case is easy to understand when you think that teaching people to drive begins on the road and not where it should happen
Looking backwards should be second nature to a driver and on a motorway, and is essential for safe driving. The correct lane for driving is the leftmost lane and any other lanes are only for overtaking which is why the large majority of drivers are in the wrong lane almost all the time. A recent addition to the laws available to traffic cops is the ability to pull over and ticket someone who doesn’t believe they should stay on the left. It isn’t much used for a couple of reasons in part because police are also badly trained as far as to how far in front of a vehicle you should be to pull back in after overtaking, and also because to stop someone on a motorway to ticket them for this offence is a particularly unsafe procedure. Any traffic policeman will tell you that stopping on a motorway is a risky and potentially life threatening thing to do which is why if you break down and have to stop on the hard shoulder you are advised to get out of the vehicle and retreat past a safety barrier until help arrives.
Treat a motorway as a single lane piece of road and pull out to overtake and then pull back in when you’ve passed. Of course, it isn’t as clear cut as that but this is the basics of the procedure and for this to be safely completed use of your mirrors is the key. Look twice at the minimum before signalling and pulling out to gauge the speed of the traffic in the lane outside you so you can adjust your speed to join the faster moving traffic or, if you have a large enough gap or there is nothing coming, pull out. It is this part of the manoeuvre which traffic cops don’t like to see occurring if you get too close the vehicle in front because they are told that it takes half a mile to complete this safely at 70mph and if you start moving out when you are a hundred metres behind the vehicle in front and then pull back in when you are a hundred metres in front of it that is probably about right but that isn’t necessary nor particularly any safer than pulling out from seven car lengths behind and pulling back in when three or four lengths in front. Another piece of advice which is frowned on by the ever vigilant traffic guys is to speed up to overtake as the shortest time spent in the wrong lane is the safest time to be there. Of course slowing down back to the speed limit after the manoeuvre is safer for your licence and for you and every other road user but this isn’t either taught nor looked at from the right angle.
Keeping in the leftmost lane will also help you to practice the overtaking manoeuvre more often as there will always be lorries going at a governed 58mph so constant use of your mirrors is necessary to allow you to change lanes to complete the manoeuvre. The more you use them the easier it gets to gauge the speed of vehicles coming up from behind you.
I will add here that the term undertaking is misnamed because if you are maintaining a constant speed while the outer lanes are full of vehicles going faster, and then for reasons outside of your control and over which you have no part, they suddenly slow down to below your speed why is it your problem? It is almost inevitable this will have been caused by someone going slower than you are far in front and who has lane hopped without giving any thought to those going faster and who will then probably have hopped back but only into the middle lane and not into the nearside lane where they should be.