Theory Test Motorway Rules
- Weather Conditions - knowing motorway speed restrictions
- Road Surfaces - using the left-hand lane unless overtaking
- Time of Day - knowing where you can and can't stop
- Speed - when and where to use lights to see and be seen
- Traffic Calming - knowing that you can only stop on a motorway in an emergency and how to use hard shoulder emergency phones.
For more detailed information on driving safely on motorways and what motorway signs mean see out motorway page.
Facts To Know
- The national speed limit on motorways for cars and motorcycles 70 mph.
- When joining a motorway, give way to traffic already on the motorway.
- Vehicles towing trailers cannot travel in the right-hand lane of a motorway (unless all other lanes are closed). The maximum speed limit for them is 60 mph.
- The left-hand lane can be used by any vehicle.
- The left-hand lane should be used for normal driving. Use the centre and right-hand lanes for overtaking.
- Green studs run between a motorway and its slip road.
- White studs run between the lanes on a motorway.
- Amber studs run between the central reservation and the carriageway.
- Red studs run between the carriageway and the hard shoulder.
- The hard shoulder should normally only be used for stopping in an emergency. You can however travel on the hard shoulder when signs direct you to do so.
- An Emergency Refuge Area is an area on a motorway for use in cases of emergency or breakdown.
- If you breakdown but can't get to the hard shoulder you should turn on your hazard warning lights.
- When leaving the hard shoulder to rejoin the main carriageway you should gain speed on the hard shoulder before moving out into the carriageway.
- If you breakdown on a motorway and need to call for help it may be better to use one of the emergency roadside phones , as this way your location will be accurately known. If you use a mobile phone you can check your location from the marker posts on the left.
- Most of the emergency phones are linked to the Highways Agency Control Centre.
- Marker posts at 100-metre intervals point you in the direction of the nearest phone.
- Highways Agency Traffic Officers are able to stop and direct anyone on a motorway.
- A red cross displayed above a lane means do not travel in the lane.
- A crawler lane on a motorway is found on a steep gradient.
- A number displayed above a lane i.e. 50 means the speed limit for the lane is 50 mph.
- If you get puncture on the motorway you should use an emergency phone to call for assistance.
- Continuous high speeds make vehicle breakdowns more likely.
- If traffic ahead of you slows or stops suddenly you can turn on your hazard warning lights for a short time to warn traffic behind you.
- In a contraflow system there are likely to be lower speed limits.
- When going through a contraflow: don't switch lanes, don't get too close to the vehicle in front.
You should stop on a motorway:
- If red lights show above every lane
- When told to by the police
- When signalled by a Highways Agency Officer
If you have to stop on the hard shoulder:
- Turn on your hazard lights
- Switch on your side lights if visibility is poor
- Don't open the offside, those nearest the carriageway, doors
- you and your passengers should leave the car from the nearside doors and wait on the embankment.
The following cannot use the motorway:
- Learner car drivers
- Farm tractors and other slow-moving vehicles
- Learner motorcyclists
- Motorcycles under 50cc
- Horse riders
Active Traffic Management (ATM)
ATM tries to reduce congestion and make journey times more reliable. Where in use, mandatory speed limit signs will show on the gantries above the motorway lanes.
- In ATM area, the hard shoulder is sometimes used as a normal traffic lane. If a speed limit sign is active above the hard shoulder, then the hard shoulder can be used as a normal lane.
- If A red cross shows above the hard shoulder, it cannot be used as a normal lane.
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