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A guide to motorway driving law

A poll by Nissan found that 23 per cent of drivers were uncomfortable on multi-lane roads, whilst stats released by the RAC state there are 8 million drivers in the UK who rarely use motorways, whilst 380,000 drivers avoid them altogether. Motorway driving doesn’t necessarily require a different set of skills, yet it does require concentration and a strong understanding on the law.

There was a change to legislation in 2018 allowing learners to take to motorways with an approved driving instructor. This law was introduced in a bid to ensure more drivers know how to use motorways safely. Prior to 2018, driving on the motorway was only possible once you’d passed your test, and perhaps this is one of the reasons why many drivers avoid motorways altogether. To help more drivers understand the law on motorway driving, we’ve outlined the main motorway driving offences below.

Middle Lane Hogging

When driving on a motorway, you must be positioned in the left lane unless you’re overtaking. Many drivers remain in lane two (middle lane) or lane three (right hand lane) despite the left being free. If caught doing so, you could incur a fine of £100 and three penalty points. That said, it’s also important to “avoid excessive weaving”. This is when a motorist changes lanes constantly, but according to the RAC, common sense comes into play, so when you’ve overtaken a vehicle in lane one and you’re approaching another, it may normally be best to remain in the middle lane. Excessive weaving should also be avoided during periods of heavy traffic.

Red X

Red ‘X’ signs are used to indicate a closed lane on a smart motorway. This is usually when a vehicle has broken down and is unable to reach an emergency refuge area (ERA). It’s therefore paramount that motorists drive in closed lanes on smart motorways. The Home Office legislation (recently brought in from June 10 2019) rules motorists who drive in these lanes may face a £100 fine and three penalty points. Highways England has set up many new cameras on motorway gantries and these will automatically catch rule-breaking motorists, so it’s no longer a case of having to be caught by police in the act.


Tailgating is one of the most dangerous driving traits that greatly reduces the distance in-between cars, increasing the chance of a rear-end collision. Tailgating is classified by UK law as “careless driving” and it is also punishable with a £100 fine and three penalty points. Back in 2018, a study by Highways England showed that 12.5 per cent of deaths on major roads in the country were caused by tailgating, which is usually an attempt to force or bully the vehicle in front to speed up or move out of the way.

Hard Shoulder

Over 100 people are killed or seriously injured each year on hard shoulders in the UK, according to official figures. The hard shoulder is an emergency lane, so you are only within your rights to use it when you’ve broken down, whilst emergency vehicles can of course use it when attending an incident. Using a hard shoulder at any other time unless instructed to do so by traffic officers can see you incur a £100 fine and three points on your licence.

Speed Traps

Warning other road users of a speed trap by flashing headlights can land you a £1,000 fine. The Highway Code (rule 110) states:

“Only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there. Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users.”

It’s also important to understand that posting the position of a speed camera on a social media network such as Facebook or Twitter is also illegal, as it “obstructs an officer’s work in the field” and you can be fined up to £1,000.

Our top tips for motorway driving

Getting used to driving on a motorway takes time, and if you’re newly qualified or inexperienced in terms of driving on a motorway, it may be best to book extra lessons after you pass your test so that you can learn many of the advanced aspects of motorway driving in the safest environment possible. Below are our top tips for tackling motorway driving:

  • Keep your distance and follow the 2-second rule.
  • Overtake correctly from the get-go.
  • Stop off at a service station for a break whenever you feel fatigued or tired.
  • Use your mirrors every time you change lanes and be sure to check your blind spots.
  • Do not break the speed limit.
  • Use your hazards to warn others of hazards or obstructions up ahead.
  • When joining a motorway, match the speed of the cars already travelling on the motorway.
  • Plan your route in advance and ensure you are familiar with the roads and the exits you need to take.

Road Traffic Law Experts

These are just a few of the motorway driving offences that can land you a fine, penalty points or a ban, however, road traffic law can be incredibly complex, but here at Noble Solicitors, our expert team are best placed to guide you on the many complicated regulations. Whether you’re facing a criminal charge for a motoring offence or are worried about losing your licence, we can fight on your behalf every step of the way. We offer legal advice and representation on:

  • Speeding offences
  • Drink driving offences
  • Driving without insurance
  • Dangerous driving offences
  • Medical revocation of a driving licence
  • And any other type of motoring offence

If you’d like to learn more about the support we provide or wish to speak to us about how we can best protect your rights, please call our Motoring Solicitors team today on 07000 81 82 83 or email us at

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