Motorway Driving

Motorway Driving

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Motorway History

The first section of motorway, the M6 Preston Bypass, opened in 1958 followed by the first major section of motorway (the M1 between Crick and Berrygrove), which opened in 1959.

From then onwards, motorways opened on a regular basis right into the 1980s; by 1972 the first 1,000 miles (1,609 km) of motorway had been built.

Whilst roads outside of urban areas continued to be built throughout the 1970s, opposition to urban routes became more pronounced. Most notably, plans by the Greater London Council for a series of ringways were cancelled following extensive road protests and a rise in costs.

The completed M25 London Orbital opened in 1986.

In 1996 the total length of motorways reached 2,000 miles (3,219 km).

Facts about the Motorway

Did you know...

• On 5th December 1958 the Preston by-pass was opened.
It was eight miles long and Britain’s first motorway. There are
now over 2,015 miles of motorway network in England alone.

• The M25 is 118 miles.

• Highways Agency Traffic Officers are now patrolling all of
England’s motorways from 7 Regional Control Centres
and 32 outstations.

• The motorway network in England continues to be
among the safest in the world.

• 25% of all congestion is caused by incidents.

• Over 70% of incidents are proactively spotted by on-road
Highways Agency Traffic Officers or CCTV.


New Rules on Motorways

For many years now the rules of motorway driving have not changed, however in recent years, not only have driving habits and attitudes changed, so have the amount of traffic and the amount of congestion.

Therefore new driving rules and styles needed to be introduced to cope with these changes.

Now instead of a fixed hard shoulder some motorways allow the hard shoulder to be used as an extra lane, when there is congestion at peak times throughout the day.

Variable Speed Limits - THESE ARE NOT OPTIONAL!!!!!

Many years ago the only sign you would see on a motorway was an advice sign - like this one.

motorway advice speed sign

These in general were not always accurate and were often left on, long after the hazard had gone, so most people tended to ignore it.


Today however you will see this sign above the motorway

  motorway speed signs  You will notice that this sign has a red band around it - This denotes that this IS NOT an advice sign

    This IS a STATUATORY SPEED LIMIT - Exceed it and you get FINED and POINTS!

    These are monitored exceptionally well, so are rarely wrong. What they can be used for if there is congestion ahead, is to try and slow down the speed of oncoming vehicles to try and allow the pressure points of traffic to ease slightly and so eliminate the infamous start/stop scenario you find on motorways.

Also above the gantry on a motorway by these speed limit signs you will see a speed camera sign and painted white lines on the carriageway. this is because the gantries now have speed cameras built into them.

So at 3 am on a quiet sunday morning you will still get nicked for speeding!

Also on some stretches of motorway you have the "Yellow buzzards"

spec-average-speed-camera 2

 These are "average speed - cameras". A computer tracks your number plate over a specific distance and calculates how long it should have taken you to travel that distance.

   SO if from point a to point b should take you 10 mins at 70 mph

   But if you do point a, to point b, in 5 mins - Then your average speed was 140 mph



Managed Motorways

 motorway lights

Modern hi-tech communications and roadside cameras now enable the Highways Agency to take practical and safe measures
to ease traffic flow when it’s getting busy. As well as road signs, these include variable speed limits, hard-shoulder running and
ramp metering (traffic lights on motorway entry slip roads to regulate the flow onto the main carriageway). For now these
measures have only been introduced on certain motorways but watch this space for a national rollout over the next few years.

Variable Message Signs

motorway_driving_gantry 2

Variable Message Signs
Located on the central reservation, on the roadside, on overhead gantries and on slip roads, these tell you about road conditions ahead so you can make informed decisions en route. They range from fog warnings, speed limits and lane closures up to more detailed messages aimed at improving safety and minimising the impact of congestion, incidents or road restrictions, as well as information about journey times.

Emergency Refuge Areas

ERAs are additional refuges beyond the traditional hard shoulder.

They provide a safer place to stop in an emergency and act as an additional stopping area if the hard shoulder is being used as an extra lane.

Most have sensors and/or CCTV to alert the Highways Agency when vehicles enter. And don’t fear if you are
genuinely stranded; the motorway network is patrolled by HA Traffic Officers 24 hours a day.

They will assist you, call your breakdown service or liaise with emergency services to get you safely off the highway.


Refresher driver training will help you to:
• Read the road ahead more effectively
• Build confidence for motorway driving
• Plan for and negotiate junctions and crossings
• Overtake smoothly and effectively
• Prepare for and interact with other road users
• Understand lines and signs

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