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The types of vehicles not permitted to use the right hand (offside) lane on a motorway, which has three or more lanes open for use by traffic travelling in the same direction are:

  • a goods vehicle having a maximum laden weight exceeding 7.5 tonnes,
  • a goods vehicle having 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 passenger vehicle which is constructed or adapted to carry more than eight seated passengers in addition to the driver the maximum laden weight of which exceeds 7.5 tonnes;
  • a passenger vehicle which is constructed or adapted to carry more than eight seated passengers in addition to the driver the maximum laden weight of which does not exceed 7.5 tonnes, which is required to be fitted with a speed limiter.
  • a motor vehicle drawing a trailer
  • a vehicle which is a motor tractor, a light locomotive or a heavy locomotive.

There are exceptions to this rule, which are:

  • when it is necessary for the vehicle to be driven to enable it to pass another vehicle which is carrying or drawing a load of exceptional width.
  • for a vehicle to change lane during a period when it would not be reasonably practicable for it to do so without involving danger of injury to any person or inconvenience to other traffic.


General driving

  • Keep to the left except when overtaking.
  • Overtake on the right – see question 891 for information on when you can overtake on the left.
  • Keep a safe distance behind the car in front, general advice is the 2 second rule. Watch for the car in front to pass a stationary object, then start counting, if you pass it before you have counted to two, you are too close.
  • Keep to speed limits.
  • Use mirrors but beware of 'blind spots'.
  • Take regular breaks – at least every two hours.
  • Plan your journey and make sure you know which exit you need.
  • Make sure your tyres are correctly inflated, you have sufficient petrol and your windscreen wash is filled.
  • Always bear in mind the possible actions of other drivers.
  • Make preparations to leave the motorway in good time – don't suddenly cut into lanes.
  • There is no such thing as a fast lane, the middle and offside lane are for overtaking only.

Smart motorways

For information in relation to driving on a Smart Motorway please see the link below:

National Highways - Driving on motorways

Driving at night

  • Use dipped lights if there is oncoming traffic, as a full beam will dazzle other drivers
  • The night vision mode on your rear view mirror will prevent you from being dazzled – see the small catch under the internal mirror that tilts it slightly.
  • Reflective studs have the following meanings:
    Red – mark the left edge of the road.
    Amber – mark the central reservation of a dual carriageway or motorway.
    White – mark the lanes or the middle of the road.
    Green – mark the edge of the main carriageway at laybys and slip roads.
    Green/yellow – indicate temporary adjustments to lane layouts e.g. at roadworks.

For more information, see the links in related information.


The following information is intended only as a guide and common sense should be used at all times. The main issue to consider is the safety of you and your passengers.

If your vehicle develops a problem, leave the motorway at the next exit or pull into a service area. If you cannot do so, you should:

  • Pull on to the hard shoulder and stop as far to the left as possible, with your wheels turned to the left.
  • Try to stop near an emergency telephone (situated at approximately one-mile intervals along the hard shoulder).
  • Leave the vehicle by the left-hand door and ensure your passengers do the same. You must leave any animals in the vehicle or, in an emergency, keep them under proper control on the verge. Never attempt to place a warning triangle on a motorway.
  • Do not put yourself in danger by attempting even simple repairs.
  • Ensure that passengers keep away from the carriageway and hard shoulder, and that children are kept under control.
  • Walk to an emergency telephone on your side of the carriageway (follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder) – the telephone is free of charge and connects directly to an operator. Use these in preference to a mobile phone. Always face the traffic when you speak on the phone.
  • Give full details to the operator; also inform them if you are a vulnerable motorist such as disabled, older or travelling alone.
  • Return and wait near your vehicle (well away from the carriageway and hard shoulder).
  • If you feel at risk from another person, return to your vehicle by a left-hand door and lock all doors. Leave your vehicle again as soon as you feel this danger has passed.

For more information see links in related information.


The national speed limit varies depending on the type of road you are on and the vehicle you're driving. The national speed limit is depicted by a white circular sign with a black stripe diagonally across it from right to left.

  • If you're on a dual carriageway and driving a car or motorcycle the national limit is 70mph.
  • If you're on a single carriageway and driving a car or motorcycle the national speed limit is 60mph.

The link below lists the speed limits applicable to different vehicles:

GOV.UK - Speed limits

The speed limit is the absolute maximum and does not mean it is safe to drive at that speed irrespective of conditions. Driving at speeds too fast for the road and traffic conditions is dangerous. You should always reduce your speed when:

  • the road layout or condition presents hazards such as bends
  • sharing the road with pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, particularly children and motorcyclists
  • weather conditions make it safer to do so
  • driving at night as it is more difficult to see other road users.


Although it is not illegal to wear sunglasses whilst driving at night, it is not advisable as it is essential your vision remains clear at all times.

For further information please see the link in Related Information to the AA website.


Rule 163 of the Highway Code states

  • only overtake on the left if the vehicle in front is signalling to turn right, and there is room to do so
  • stay in your lane if traffic is moving slowly in queues. If the queue on your right is moving more slowly than you are, you may pass on the left

Rule 268 of the Highway Code states – 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.

Overtaking on the left is lawful if done in accordance with the above guidance. However, whilst there is no specific offence of overtaking on the left, if a driver undertook another vehicle, other than in the circumstances described above e.g. in the case of someone hogging lane 2 on a motorway, they may be prosecuted for careless driving.

Always take extreme care when overtaking on the left, as there may be a number of dangers e.g.

  • Pedestrians crossing the road that are hidden by stationary vehicles in other lanes.
  • Other drivers may not see you and suddenly move back to the left.


Learner drivers can take motorway driving lessons with an approved driving instructor on motorways in England, Scotland and Wales.

In order to do this learner drivers must be:

  • accompanied by an approved driving instructor
  • driving a car fitted with dual controls
  • the vehicle must display L-plates to the front and rear

Motorways lessons are voluntary - it will be a matter for a driving instructor to decide when the learner driver is competent enough to undertake lessons on a motorway.

It should be noted that:

  • This only applies to learner drivers of cars - learner motorcyclists are not allowed on motorways.
  • Trainee driving instructors are not allowed to take learner drivers on the motorway.
  • Motorway driving is not currently part of the driving test.

Contact your local police force

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