Motorway driving


To know and understand how to safely join and drive on a motorway. 


To be able to safely drive on motorways and understand the rules of driving on a motorway and the differences from a dual  carriageway.


  • To know when you are allowed on a motorway and with who
  • To know how to join, use and leave a motorway safely
  • To know the speed limits that apply to dual motorways
  • To know how to safely overtake 
  • To know when to use the left and right hand lanes
  • Weather conditions on motorways
  • What to do if you breakdown on a motorway
  • Smart motorways

Learners are not allowed on a motorway unless they are with an ADI in a dual controlled car displaying L plates or D in Wales. Because of this you will not be taken on a motorway on your driving test. 

Please read this in conjunction with the section on dual carriageways. Driving on a motorway will not be to different from driving on an A road dual carriageways with the 70 mph limit. The main differences will be the types of users and slightly higher speed limits for some of those users. These limits can change if you cross the border between England and  Scotland. 


Breakdown truck with car

Also the rules for breakdowns are slightly different. If possible get to a service area or pull off at a slip road. Next best is to get as close to an emergency phone as you can. 

Get everyone out using the left-hand doors. If possible the other side of any crash barrier that is on your side of the road. Or up any embankment. Stand so you face the traffic and can be seen by oncoming vehicles. Make sure any children are under proper control. Animals must by law remain in the vehicle or if in an emergency properly controlled on the verge. A loose dog could cause a very serious accident.

On a motorway do not use a warning triangle. Never attempt any repair yourself but use the emergency phones to summon professional help. If anything drops off your vehicle do not attempt its recovery yourself but use the emergency phones. 

Smart Motorways

DVSA Syllabus Smart motorway

Be aware of smart motorways. They will use the hard shoulder as a running lane and variable speed limits to even and smooth the flow of traffic on the motorway. As they do not have the use of the hard shoulder, emergency refuge areas are placed every 1-1.5 miles. 

The smart motorway will have a matrix under the road surface measuring the traffic flow. In addition it will all be covered by cameras.

This will be monitored at the regional control room and in turn could also be monitored at the national one as well. 

Before using a motorway for the first time. Take some practice with a driving instructor and have a read of your Highway code.


Learners are not allowed on the Motorway unless with a fully qualified driving instructor. They can be very similar to the fast A roads. But the limits can be higher and what to do in a breakdown a little different. Smart motorways will have variable speed limits which you must obey. 

Further reading:

The Highway Code Rule(s): 253-273, 275-278 & 280
Driving The Essential Skills: Section(s) 11

On Test:

You will not be tested on motorway on your driving test.