So, you’ve passed your test and you’re now ready for real world driving. Having a full driving licence allows you to drive on the motorway, but are you ready for the challenges of entering a motorway, changing lanes and overtaking There’s no need to panic; here are some simple tips to help you ease your way onto the motorway, into a parallel parking space and around a roundabout. We’d also recommend that you practise these a few times with an experienced driver, as the more you drive, the easier it gets.
How to enter a motorway
The speed limit on Irish motorways is 120 km per hour and you should be aware that other drivers might be travelling up to that limit. As you enter a motorway and merge with other traffic, make sure you check your right-hand mirror and blind spots to judge the speed of other cars. Once on the motorway, drive at a speed you’re comfortable with and don’t let the other drivers dictate how you drive. Remember, the speed limit is not a recommended driving speed and can often be lower on certain sections of motorway or in bad weather. Make sure to keep an eye out for signs that warn of speed restrictions or problems ahead.
Overtaking on a motorway
A common misconception is that the right-hand lane on a motorway is the fast lane, it’s actually the outside lane. The general rule of thumb is that you drive in the left-hand lane and use the outside lanes for overtaking only. While preparing to overtake make sure to judge the speed and distance of vehicles in the outer lane to make sure there is room for you. Before making your move, check your right-hand mirror and your blind spots over your shoulder. If all is clear, signal and then man oeuvre into the outside lane.
Breaking down on a motorway
It’s important to have a strategy worked out in case of this unlikely occurrence. If your car breaks down, turn on your hazard lights straight away. If you can, move over to the left hand-lane, onto the hard shoulder and then take the nearest exit. If you must park on the hard shoulder, make sure you do so as far away from the main road as possible and leave your hazards on. Turn your wheels inward, away from the road and exit through the front passenger door.
Don’t attempt to repair your car yourself. Call a repair service from your phone or, if you don’t have a working phone, use one of the rescue phones on the side of the motorway by walking to the nearest one. Always stand on the grass verge and behind a barrier if there is one. Never attempt to walk on or cross the motorway. If your car gets repaired and you need to set off again, build up speed on the hard shoulder and wait for a gap to re-join traffic safely.
Parallel parking is a manoeuvre that is tricky at first. It’s well worth practising a few times with an experienced driver to guide you before you head out on your own. Basically, you’re going to reverse your car into a space between parked cars. Firstly, find a space that is a couple of feet bigger than your car. Pull up parallel to the car in front of the space so that the back bumpers are aligned. Turn your steering wheel all the way to the left. Check your mirrors and blind spots, then start reversing slowly. Stop when the passenger corner of the car behind you lines up with the centre of the back of your car. Bring your wheel back to the middle position and reverse until your front bumper just clears the car in front. Now turn your wheel all the way to the right and reverse until your car is parallel to the pavement or side of the road. Make sure to correct your position so that there is enough room between you and the cars in front and behind.
Driving on roundabouts
When you approach a roundabout, imagine it’s like a clock. If you are turning off between 6 and 12, get in the left-hand lane. If you’re turning off after 12, get in the right-hand lane and signal right on approach to the roundabout. Traffic already on the roundabout has priority and you must give way before joining. When you get on the roundabout, always signal past the exit before the one you need. Pay attention and know what other drivers are doing and make sure they know what you are doing.