When you can see well ahead and the road conditions are good, you should
- drive at a steady cruising speed which you and your vehicle can handle safely and is within the speed limit (see the Speed limits table)
- keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front and increase the gap on wet or icy roads, or in fog (see Rules 126 and 235).
You MUST NOT exceed 70 mph (112 km/h), or the maximum speed limit permitted for your vehicle (see Speed limits table). If a lower speed limit is in force, either permanently or temporarily, at road works for example, youMUST NOT exceed the lower limit. On some motorways, mandatory motorway signals (which display the speed within a red ring) are used to vary the maximum speed limit to improve traffic flow. You MUST NOT exceed this speed limit.
Law RTRA sects 17, 86, 89 & sched 6
The monotony of driving on a motorway can make you feel sleepy. To minimise the risk, follow the advice in Rule 91.
You MUST NOT reverse, cross the central reservation, or drive against the traffic flow. If you have missed your exit, or have taken the wrong route, carry on to the next exit.
Laws MT(E&W)R regs 6, 8 & 10, & MT(S)R regs 4, 5, 7 & 9
Lane discipline (rules 264 to 266)
You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear. If you are overtaking a number of slower-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past. Slow-moving or speed-restricted vehicles should always remain in the left-hand lane of the carriageway unless overtaking. You MUST NOT drive on the hard shoulder except in an emergency or if directed to do so by the police, traffic officers in uniform or by signs.
Laws MT(E&W)R regs 5, 9 & 16(1)(a), MT(S)R regs 4, 8 & 14(1)(a), &RTA 1988 sects 35 & 186 as amended by TMA sect 6
The right-hand lane of a motorway with three or more lanes MUST NOT be used (except in prescribed circumstances) if you are driving
- any vehicle drawing a trailer
- a goods vehicle with a maximum laden weight exceeding 3.5 tonnes but not exceeding 7.5 tonnes, which is required to be fitted with a speed limiter
- a goods vehicle with a maximum laden weight exceeding 7.5 tonnes
- a passenger vehicle with a maximum laden weight exceeding 7.5 tonnes constructed or adapted to carry more than eight seated passengers in addition to the driver
- a passenger vehicle with a maximum laden weight not exceeding 7.5 tonnes which is constructed or adapted to carry more than eight seated passengers in addition to the driver, which is required to be fitted with a speed limiter.
Laws MT(E&W)R reg 12, MT(E&W)(A)R, MT(S)R reg 11 & MT(S)(A)R
Approaching a junction. Look well ahead for signals or signs. Direction signs may be placed over the road. If you need to change lanes, do so in good time. At some junctions a lane may lead directly off the motorway. Only get in that lane if you wish to go in the direction indicated on the overhead signs.
Overtaking (rules 267 to 269)
Do not overtake unless you are sure it is safe and legal to do so. Overtake only on the right. You should
- check your mirrors
- take time to judge the speeds correctly
- make sure that the lane you will be joining is sufficiently clear ahead and behind
- take a quick sideways glance into the blind spot area to verify the position of a vehicle that may have disappeared from your view in the mirror
- remember that traffic may be coming up behind you very quickly. Check all your mirrors carefully. Look out for motorcyclists. When it is safe to do so, signal in plenty of time, then move out
- ensure you do not cut in on the vehicle you have overtaken
- be especially careful at night and in poor visibility when it is harder to judge speed and distance.
Do not overtake on the left or move to a lane on your left to overtake. In congested conditions, where adjacent lanes of traffic are moving at similar speeds, traffic in left-hand lanes may sometimes be moving faster than traffic to the right. In these conditions you may keep up with the traffic in your lane even if this means passing traffic in the lane to your right. Do not weave in and out of lanes to overtake.
Hard shoulder. You MUST NOT use the hard shoulder for overtaking. In areas where an Active Traffic Management (ATM) Scheme is in force, the hard shoulder may be used as a running lane. You will know when you can use this because a speed limit sign will be shown above all open lanes, including the hard shoulder. A red cross or blank sign above the hard shoulder means that you MUST NOT drive on the hard shoulder except in an emergency or breakdown. Emergency refuge areas have also been built into these areas for use in cases of emergency or breakdown.
Laws MT(E&W)R regs 5, 5A & 9, & MT(S)R regs 4 & 8