Motorways & Lane Discipline | Driving Test Success

Motorways and lane discipline - what you should know

motorway lane discipline

Even experienced drivers need to understand motorways and lane discipline. It's vital then, as a learner driver that you develop and learn the skills that will keep you, and other road users safe.

Always keep to the left-hand lane and do not change lanes unless you need to. To do a lane change, you must plan and prepare in good time.  

Using the mirrors well before your lane change is vitally important to gather information about the traffic in the lanes around you. Check and recheck to confirm there is space for you to make this move.

Put your signal on in good time to allow for it to be seen by other vehicles. The sooner you indicate your intentions, the sooner the other traffic can register your intended move.

Always keep to the centre of your lane and never drift over the lane lines.

Normal driving lane

As you know, the normal driving lane is on the left-hand side of the road, or in the left lane. This is the same for motorway driving as well. If the motorway has two lanes, then the left lane is the normal one to use, and the centre and right-hand lanes are for overtaking.

motorways and lane discipline for learner drivers

Three and four-lane motorways and lane discipline

Keep to the left lane unless there are a large number of slow-moving vehicles in that lane, then you can move over to one of the other lanes. However, don’t stay in there longer than is necessary, especially if you are holding up traffic behind you.

Please note that there is no such thing as a slow lane and a fast lane. All lanes carry a top speed limit of 70 mph unless stated otherwise.

Whatever the number of lanes, the one to the right of you is the overtaking lane, whether this is lane 2, lane 3 or lane 4.

Crawler lanes

A motorway on a steep hill may have an extra lane called a crawler or climbing lane usually on the left side.

This lane is used for heavy goods and commercial vehicles, buses, coaches and anything towing a trailer.  These vehicles are not allowed in the right-hand lane, on a three or four lane motorway, unless some lanes are closed.

As the name suggests these vehicles lose a lot of speed as they haul themselves up the hill, and so would be seen crawling along. They have been segregated to allow the rest of the traffic on the motorway to run more freely and at higher speeds. 

Know your motorway stud colours

One of the Theory Test questions that confuse people the most relate to the colours of the studs on the motorway. There is an easy way to remember though!

If you think of motorway spelt this way: motoRWAy, then 'R' represents red, 'W' represents white, and 'A' represents amber. This should help you to remember that red is on the left (the hard shoulder), white is the usual dividing lanes, and amber studs are at the right edge of the carriageway marking the central reservation.

The other motorway stud colour to remember is green. The green studs on the motorway are found on the slip road or on lay-bys.

On occasion, you may see green/yellow studs that are used to indicate temporary changes to lane layouts.


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