Look Out for Lorries When Joining the Motorway

by : Richard Jenkins

The first point to note before driving on a motorway is that different speed limits apply to different vehicles. If driving a car you can speed along at 70mph but most lorries and coaches will have a speed limiter fitted which prevents them going faster than 56mph.

To comply with UK legislation , by 1?January?2008, speed limiters will have been fitted to many older, and all recently registered, buses, coaches and goods vehicles over 3.5?tonnes.

The problem with these lower speed limits is that they can cause problems for car drivers joining a busy motorway.

Firstly reaching the appropriate speed on the slip road is a skill in itself: you may find yourself being overtaken on the slip road by a faster moving car or motorbike. Then as you hit 60mph (slip road speed limit) you suddenly realize you are heading towards a impenetrable line of lorries all traveling at their maximum 56mph and all in lane one, the lane you have no option but to head for.

Now since you're the one joining the motorway it is you who must give way to the traffic already on the motorway, however losing speed because of a truck can feel very dangerous especially when fast moving vehicles are coming up behind you.

Do you slow to 56mph yourself and attempt to find a gap between two of the HGV's, in the hope that you can then make your way safely to lane two?

Or do you quickly speed up so you can get to the head of the queue and hopefully join the motorway at that point?

You might even be tempted to slow right down and wait for a clear gap to open up. This however is highly dangerous. Pulling out on to a motorway from a crawl or even a standstill is incredibly foolish.

The problem is further compounded by truck drivers from Europe, who because of the layout of their mirrors and driving position, often cannot see other cars from their left hand drive vehicles.

These foreign HGV's have a blind spot on the right hand side, reducing their ability to see smaller cars. This in turn means that they have difficulty moving from lane one to lane two to make a successful overtake.

It has also been suggested that drivers of long distance trucks from Europe may be particularly vulnerable to driver fatigue.

Be prepared to make allowances for larger, slower moving vehicles by shoulder checking to find a suitable safe gap as you approach on the slip road.

And if you find yourself overtaking a large foreign lorry, consider using lane three if it is safe to do so. Some truckers have a sticker remind us that "if you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you".

That's good advice, no matter where the truck is from.