Joining the Motorway


More helpful hints and tips for after you have finished your Driving Lessons in Newcastle.

Motorway slip road

On most occasions you will join the motorway via a slip-road and an acceleration lane, at other times you might join from a roundabout or simply from the extension of the dual carriageway.

When joining the motorway via a slip road, it’s important to remember that you are the ‘odd one out’ – the one who has to fit in with the flow.

Build up your speed on the slip road so that it matches the traffic on the motorway. Doing this is important, otherwise you will become a hazard to both yourself and other drivers.

As you’re building up your speed on the slip road, check your mirrors and signal ‘right’ to show that you intend to join the motorway.

A lot of people will argue that it shouldn’t be necessary to signal – after all where else are you going to go when you are heading down a one-way road at 60mph?

But… Your signal is important and fulfils the following functions …

Warns drivers behind that you are about to move out and that they should not try to overtake.
Alert drivers who might be daydreaming and therefore not notice your arrival.
Satisfies the ‘idiot expert’ drivers who believe that “If you don’t drive properly and give a signal you’ve no right to push in front of me”.

Look for a gap

You now need to start looking for the gap in the traffic.

A useful tip here is to decide which vehicle you want to follow rather than which vehicle you intend to drive in front of. This will help to keep your attention on the road ahead and will help you to maintain a positive speed.

As you approach the main carriageway you will enter an ‘acceleration lane’. This lane is provided for you to make final adjustments to your speed as you prepared to merge with the traffic in lane-one (the lane that runs next to the hard shoulder).

Make sure that you check all of your mirrors – a quick glance in the left mirror to look for idiots overtaking on the left; a glance in the centre mirror to find out who is following and a couple of glances in the right door mirror to check that your gap is still available. 

At this point you might want to have a quick glance over your right shoulder to double check that all is well.

Look back?

Some experts disagree with the idea of a final shoulder check saying that it can distract you from the road ahead. If you’re travelling at about 70mph and your glance takes around half a second, you will be distracted from the road ahead for a distance of about 20 metres … However given that you should be leaving the gap of at least 70 metres between your vehicle and the vehicle in front, the should not be a problem. Take my advice … Have a quick glance back!

If you don’t drive regularly on motorways, or have been driving in a slow urban environment for the last half-an-hour or so, it’s a good idea to stay in lane-one for a while to get used to the higher traffic speeds.

In the same way as on dual-carriageways, the higher speeds on motorways can cause things to happen very quickly. In order to cope with varying traffic conditions or emergencies you must stay alert and look well ahead (at times you might spot brake lights as far as a mile or more ahead!).

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