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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Motor-Vate- Your- Motorway Trip

One of the reasons for Learner Drivers not being allowed on Motorways is that clearly, by definition, everything is going at a much faster speed. The speed of the vehicles; the speed of your Brain; the speed at which you reach and pass your turn-offs; the speed that a vehicle comes into view and disappears into the distance; the speed with which you have to react; the speed that OTHER DRIVERS do things; the speed at which you make mistakes.

Our few stretches of Motorway here in Ireland with the exception of the M50 in rush hour, do not prepare you for driving safely in the U.K. or elsewhere. Entering or leaving the Motorway which encircles London will expose you to five lanes of traffic going at high speed which can be very scary until you have plenty of experience on lesser arteries.

You need a good level of skill and practise on everyday roads and basic city/town traffic after passing your test before you should venture onto Motorways. Apart from the obvious consequences of serious errors of judgement on a Motorway, you can’t just stop and turn around if you make a wrong turn or if you miss your Junction. You could be in for a very long detour to get back to your chosen route if you make a mistake. In certain situations this might be as much as twenty to thirty miles with the corresponding delays to your journey.

One of the essentials to safe and sound Motorway journeys is first to invest in a comprehensive U.K. map. They are not that expensive and will give you all that you need to navigate today’s extensive Motorway network. You then should plan your route carefully; writing down all the Junction numbers and any other notes for guidance and then select and train your navigator. Until and unless you have done a particular route quite a number of times you will need your co-driver to read out the instructions; sometimes repeating them several times as you approach your proposed turn off. If you miss your turn-off there is no going back.

If there is quite lot traffic around it is essential to prepare for your exit several miles ahead and get into the left hand or nearside lane in good time. If you leave it to the last moment you may not be able to attain your correct lane if it’s already full of traffic.

Knowing how and when to give the correct signals for your manoeuvre is an essential skill to staying safe on a Motorway. Our common practise here in Ireland of ignoring signalling completely or giving a signal half-way through a manoeuvre will get you into serious trouble on a busy Motorway.

It goes without saying that your tyres and service situation should be well checked before embarking on any long journey on major Motorways. A Motorway breakdown is not remotely like a lay-by picnic. Take breaks at suitable intervals at the services facilities and in fact it’s a good idea to factor these into your route plan.


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