Rules for motorways, including rules for signals, joining the motorway, driving on the motorway, lane discipline, overtaking, stopping and leaving the motorway. A number of the rules for motorways also apply to other high-speed roads.
Prohibited vehicles. Motorways MUST NOT be used by pedestrians, holders of provisional motorcycle licences, riders of motorcycles under 50 cc (4 kW), cyclists, horse riders, certain slow-moving vehicles and those carrying oversized loads (except by special permission), agricultural vehicles, and powered wheelchairs/powered mobility scooters (see Rules 36 to 46 inclusive).
Provisional car licence holders MUST NOT drive on the motorway unless they are accompanied by a DVSA Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) and are driving a car displaying red L plates (or D plates in Wales) with dual controls.
Laws HA 1980 sects 16, 17 & sched 4, MT(E&W)R regs 3(d), 4 & 11 as amended by MT(E&W)(A)R 2004 & MT(E&W)(A)R 2018, R(S)A sects 7, 8 & sched 3, RTRA sect 17 & MT(S)R reg 10 as amended by MT(S)(A)R 2018
Traffic on motorways usually travels faster than on other roads, so you have less time to react. It is especially important to use your mirrors earlier and look much further ahead than you would on other roads.
Signs and signals (see ‘Light signals controlling traffic’) are used to warn you of hazards ahead. For example, there may be an incident, fog, a spillage or road workers on the carriageway which you may not immediately be able to see.
A single sign or signal can display advice, restrictions and warnings for all lanes.
Lane specific signs and signals can display advice, restrictions and warnings that apply to individual lanes.
Amber flashing lights. These signals warn of a hazard ahead. You should
Red flashing light signals and a red ‘X’ on a sign identify a closed lane in which people, stopped vehicles or other hazards are present. You
Rule 258: signals and signs indicating lane closures
Be aware that
Where red flashing light signals and closure of all lanes are shown on a sign, the road is closed. You
Rule 258: signals and signs indicating lane closures
Lane and road closures indicated by red flashing lights are enforced by the police.
Joining the motorway. When you join the motorway you will normally approach it from a road on the left (a slip road) or from an adjoining motorway. You should
When you can see well ahead and the road conditions are good, you should
You MUST NOT exceed
The monotony of driving on motorways and other high-speed roads can make you feel sleepy. To minimise the risk, follow the advice in Rule 91 about ensuring you are fit to drive and taking breaks.
Service areas are located along motorways to allow you to take breaks and to obtain refreshments. Refreshment and rest facilities on the local road network may also be accessible from motorway exits.
Unless directed to do so by a police or traffic officer, you MUST NOT
If you have missed your exit, or have taken the wrong route, carry on to the next exit.
Keep in the left lane unless overtaking.
The right-hand lane of a motorway with three or more lanes MUST NOT be used (except in prescribed circumstances) if you are driving
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.
Do not overtake unless you are sure it is safe and legal to do so. Overtake only on the right. You should
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.
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).
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.
Rule 270: sign indicating distance to next emergency area
Follow the requirements and advice in
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
You MUST NOT pick up or set down anyone, or walk on a motorway, except in an emergency.
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
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.