Leading up to the motorway
On approach, the motorway signs are coloured blue and white to help distinguish them from other routes. The motorway signs may also stand alone and are bordered in white.
On the motorway
You should, of course, already know and be familiar with the Highway Code. In this you will find the various different road signs associated with the motorway. You must know what these mean, so if it has been a while since you travelled on the motorway, or, this is your first time, then refresh your memory, or get some professional assistance from a driving instructor. You will also find
- Speed limit signs – red and white mandatory speed restrictions and must be obeyed, or you will risk prosecution.
- Black and white rectangular signs which recommend a maximum speed limit and should be observed.
- Advanced direction signs, giving you notice of something up and coming.
- Countdown markers – three stripes, two stripe and one stripe on posts at the side of the road, indicating the distance to the exit.
- Leisure Activities and Location signs – showing direction to museums, camping grounds, air shows, historic locations etc.
The signs are bigger than those on the ordinary roads, because you have to be able to see them and act upon the information in good time. It is important that you plan your movements on the motorway because it takes more time and space to move into the required lane, in order to leave at a junction. Junctions have their own numbers posted on the signs on approach. Often there are three signs warning you that you are approaching a junction, so you can plan your approach safely.
There are often road works and lane closures on motorways. You might find signs and signals warning of an accident, or fog or icy roads. These might occur over the motorway lanes on overhead electric signs or at the side on the dot matrix notice boards. The may also show a reduced speed limit. What to do on approach of warning signals:
- Slow down to the speed limit
- Be prepared to slow even more as you might have to pass an accident or obstacle.
- Watch out for the police and emergency services.
- Keep your speed at the posted limit until you pass the sign which informs you that you have reached the end of the restricted zone, only then should you safely increase your speed to the new limit.
- Some signs have red lights. Red in the context of driving, means danger and stop.
- The overhead lane sign may show a red flashing light, or a red X. This means that lane is closed and you must not pass.
Start to slow down in good time and be ready to change lanes. If the red light is over an exit slip then you cannot enter and must go to the next exit.