On leaving the motorway or using a link road between motorways, your speed may be higher than you realise – 50 mph may feel like 30 mph. Check your speedometer and adjust your speed accordingly. Some slip-roads and link roads have sharp bends, so you will need to slow down.
Unless signs indicate that a lane leads directly off the motorway, you will normally leave the motorway by a slip road on your left. You should
- watch for the signs letting you know you are getting near your exit
- move into the left-hand lane well before reaching your exit
- signal left in good time and reduce your speed on the slip road as necessary.
You MUST NOT stop on any carriageway, emergency area, hard shoulder, slip road, central reservation or verge except in an emergency, or when told to do so by the police, traffic officers, an emergency sign or by red flashing light signals.
Do not stop on any part of a motorway to make or receive mobile telephone calls, except in an emergency.
Laws MT(E&W)R regs 7, 9, 10 & 16 as amended by MT(E&W)(A)(E)R, MT(S)R regs 6(1), 8, 9 & 14, PRA sect 41 & sched 5(8), RTA 1988 sects 35, 36 & 163 as amended by TMA sect 6, & CUR reg 110 as amended by CUR(A)(No4)R
Emergency areas are located along motorways with no hard shoulder or where the hard shoulder can be used as an extra lane (see Rule 269) and MUST only be used in an emergency.
They are marked by blue signs with an orange SOS telephone symbol and may have orange surfacing.
Follow the requirements and advice in
- Rule 277 if your vehicle develops a problem on the motorway
- Rule 278 to rejoin the carriageway from an emergency area.
Hard shoulder (where present). You MUST NOT use a hard shoulder except in an emergency or if directed to do so by the police, traffic officers or a traffic sign.
Hard shoulder (where used as an extra lane). The hard shoulder is used as an extra lane on some motorways during periods of congestion. A red ‘X’ or blank sign above the hard shoulder means that you MUST NOT use the hard shoulder except in an emergency.
You can only use the hard shoulder as an extra lane when a speed limit is shown above the hard shoulder.
Where the hard shoulder is being used as an extra lane, emergency areas are provided for use in an emergency (see Rule 270).
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.
Do not overtake unless you are sure it is safe and legal to do so. Overtake only on the right. You should
- check your mirrors
- take time to judge the speeds correctly
- make sure that the lane you will be joining is sufficiently clear ahead and behind
- take a quick sideways glance into the blind spot area to verify the position of a vehicle that may have disappeared from your view in the mirror
- remember that traffic may be coming up behind you very quickly. Check all your mirrors carefully. Look out for motorcyclists. When it is safe to do so, signal in plenty of time, then move out
- ensure you do not cut in on the vehicle you have overtaken
- be especially careful at night and in poor visibility when it is harder to judge speed and distance.
Approaching a junction. Look well ahead for signals, signs and road markings. Direction signs may be placed over the road. If you need to, you should change lanes well ahead of a junction. At some junctions, a lane may lead directly off the road. Only get in that lane if you wish to go in the direction indicated by signs or road markings.
The right-hand lane of a motorway with three or more lanes MUST NOT be used (except in prescribed circumstances) if you are driving
- any vehicle drawing a trailer
- a goods vehicle with 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 goods vehicle with a maximum laden weight exceeding 7.5 tonnes
- a passenger vehicle with a maximum laden weight exceeding 7.5 tonnes constructed or adapted to carry more than eight seated passengers in addition to the driver
- a passenger vehicle with a maximum laden weight not exceeding 7.5 tonnes which is constructed or adapted to carry more than eight seated passengers in addition to the driver, which is required to be fitted with a speed limiter.