There are many motorway driving myths that are just that – myths. So, let’s take a look at some of the common ones.
Some top motorway myths and truths
Myth 1: The right-hand lane can be used by any vehicle
Some people believe the right-hand lane of the motorway can be used by any vehicle looking to overtake. However, this is not the case. Cars with trailers attached, caravans, and HGVs weighing more than 7.5 tonnes cannot use this lane.
Myth 2: The left-hand lane is a slow lane for truck drivers
You may be under the impression that the left-hand lane is just a slow lane designed for use by truck drivers. In truth, it is the lane that all drivers should be using other than to overtake or to move over and let traffic join the motorway from the slip road.
Myth 3: The motorway has no set national speed limit
It is often thought that the motorway does not have a set national speed limit. However, the maximum speed limit is actually 70mph, and for HGVs and cars that are towing caravans or trailers, it is 60mph. For a full list of motorway speed limits, check the government’s official site.
Myth 4: People and pets should exit the vehicle if it breaks down on the edge of the motorway
Most people know that, for safety reasons, they should exit the vehicle if it breaks down on the edge of the motorway. (This is just in case another vehicle hits the stationary one that has broken down.) However, some people think that they also have to remove pets from the vehicle, which is not the case. Pets should actually be left inside the vehicle in case they escape and run amok on the motorway, posing a danger to themselves and to motorists.
Myth 5: The hard shoulder can be used if you feel unwell or need the toilet
Have you ever pulled onto the hard shoulder because you felt unwell or needed the loo? Well, plenty of people have done this because they are under the impression that it is allowed. The bad news is that you are meant to keep driving to the next exit in these circumstances not pull over onto the hard shoulder. An easy solution it to find the nearest motor service station, where you can pull in and take a break.
Myth 6: Lorry drivers can always see me, just like car drivers can
Some people believe that lorry drivers have the same field of view as cars, and that they can easily see other motorists. However, lorries have blindspots, especially left-hand drive ones. Spend minimum time alongside them when you overtake and don’t change lanes into a lorry blindspot.
Myth 7: You must give way to traffic joining from a slip road
A lot of people think that it is mandatory for them to give way to traffic that is joining the motorway from the slip road. However, this is not the case. While most drivers move into the middle lane out of courtesy so that others can join the motorway, you are not obliged to do this. It is actually up to the drivers joining the motorway to give way to those already on it.
Myth 8: You’ll be fined if you run out of petrol on the motorway!
If you have heard that you can get fined for running out of petrol on the motorway, don’t worry as this is not the case. However, it is dangerous to run out of juice while you are on the motorway. To reduce the chances of this happening, make sure you plan your route effectively and fill your tank before you go. It’s a good idea to make sure you know where there are service stations along your route for you to fill up during your journey, just in case!
Myth 9: You won’t see a learner driver on the motorway!
It used to be the case that you couldn’t be let loose on the motorway as a driver until you’d passed your driving test. However in 2018, this changed, and for the first time, learners were allowed on the motorway with an approved driving instructor, in a car with dual controls.
Myth 10: You can avoid fines by slowing down for smart motorway speed cameras
Thanks to smart motorways, there are various sections of motorways that now have speed cameras. Some drivers think that they work in a similar way to the regular ones on the road, and they slow down as they approach them before speeding back up. However, this could still get you a speeding fine because they do not work in the same way. They actually measure how long it takes to travel between cameras, thus enabling them to work out your average speed.
Know the truth before using the motorway
The ability to separate fact from fiction with these debunked myths should make motorway driving far easier. Familiarising yourself with these can help you to avoid potentially costly and dangerous mistakes when you’re driving on the motorway.