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Riding a motorcycle on motorways (part three)

Posted by Howard Trott on Thursday, August 18, 2016 Under: Motorcycle Riding Skills
On the motorway

Continually reassess the movement of the vehicles - directly ahead (in the near and far distance) - alongside you - behind you. At high speeds, situations change rapidly. Effective observation helps you prepare for any sudden developments.

For example, an increase in the number of vehicles ahead could mean that traffic is slowing down and bunching, or a flashing breakdown light will warn you to slow down until you're sure of what's happening. If you see serious congestion ahead, you can use hazard warning lights (if fitted) briefly to alert drivers behind you. This can reduce the risk of rear-end collisions, especially in bad weather.

Keeping your distance 

The faster the traffic, the more time and space you need. You must - give yourself greater margins than on ordinary roads - make sure there's enough space between you and the vehicle ahead. Traffic normally travels faster because there are usually no - ordinary junctions - sharp bends - roundabouts - steep hills - traffic lights - slow moving vehicles. Some motorway links, where motorway regulations also apply, have roundabouts and sharp bends.

How big a gap ? leave a gap of at least one metre or yard for each mph of your speed. Bad weather - leave at least double the space if the road is wet or slippery.


If vehicles ahead switch on their hazard warning lights be prepared for slow moving or stationary traffic. Look well ahead and leave yourself plenty of room. Check behind to see how the following traffic is reacting. If you find yourself catching up with slower moving traffic there could be an obstruction ahead. Be aware that other vehicles may be slowing gradually without the need to brake. You won't have warning from their brake lights in these situations.

Lane discipline

Lane discipline is vitally important on motorways. You should normally ride in the left-hand lane - don't change lanes unless you need to - ride in the centre of the lane - don't wander into another lane. 

Changing lanes on a motorway

Always use the OSM/PSL routine before you intend to change lanes. At higher speeds, you must start the routine much earlier. Look, and if necessary signal in good time. Remember vehicles might come up behind very quickly. The sooner you indicate, the sooner other drivers are warned of your intended movement. They'll expect a change in the traffic pattern and have time to prepare for it.

Two-lane discipline

On a two-lane motorway, the correct position is in the left-hand lane. The right-hand (offside) lane is for overtaking and once you have overtaken you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as it is safe to do so. Large goods vehicles are permitted to use either lane.

Three or four lane discipline

Because of the volume of traffic on three-lane motorways, many are being widened to four or more lanes in each direction. Keep to the left-hand lane unless there are a great many slower vehicles ahead. Avoid repeatedly changing lanes, its possible to stay in the centre or outer lanes while you are overtaking a number of slower moving vehicles, but don't stay in these lanes - longer than you have to - if you are delaying traffic behind you. Drivers of large goods vehicles, buses, coaches, or any vehicle towing a trailer are not allowed to use the extreme right-hand lane of a motorway with more than two lanes, unless one or more lanes are temporarily closed.

Don't stay in an overtaking lane longer than it takes you to move out, overtake and move in again safely. Make sure you don't block traffic which is not allowed to use the outer lane. Remember - the right-hand lane is for overtaking, it's not the fast lane.

In : Motorcycle Riding Skills 

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