Surprisingly, motorway driving is not covered within your driving test in Ireland. This seems less surprising when you are an experienced driver driving on the motorway witnessing many others in the wrong lane. Here’s our guide to driving on the motorway in Ireland.
Before you attempt to drive on the motorway there are some things you need to know. You cannot drive on the motorway...
The maximum speed limit on the motorway is usually 120km per hour. Sometimes this is reduced when road works are taking place or if there are bad weather conditions. Other motorway users such as bus, truck, caravan, horse / cattle box drivers and those towing a trailer are restricted to a lower speed limit.
This is the main rule associated with driving on the motorway. The left hand lane should be used unless you need to overtake a slower car in front or if the lane is blocked. If you are overtaking you must move back to the left lane as soon as possible. You may also need to vacate the left lane to make space for merging vehicles, but again, you need to go back into the left lane as soon as possible.
If you’re driving on a three-lane motorway there is an extra lane for overtaking but you should still keep as left as possible and avoid:
The right lane is off limits for HGV’s, vehicles towing a trailer, horse / cattle boxes and caravans. The only exception to this is when an obstruction is blocking the other lanes.
As there is so much movement among vehicles between lanes you must consistently check your mirrors when driving on the motorway.
Before moving, overtaking or changing lanes remember: MSMM - mirror, signal, mirror, move. Check your mirrors and blind spots and indicate to let other drivers know you want to move and keep a safe distance from the car in front and behind you. A signal should be given everytime you change lanes. Always give sufficient space to the overtaken vehicle when returning to your lane. Remember to switch your indicator off once you have completed your move.
As well as checking your own blindspots before moving, you should stay out of other driver’s blindspots. This especially applies to larger vehicles.
Only overtake a vehicle on its right side. One exception is if traffic is moving slowly and the lane on your right is moving slower than you are. Besides this, passing on the left side is called undertaking and is extremely dangerous.
Only move one lane at a time when changing lanes on the motorway. Never drive across a lane to get to the next one.
Always maintain a safe stopping distance between you and the car in front. In dry conditions use the 2-second rule and in wetter conditions allow extra stopping distance of around 4 seconds.
An extra lane known as the auxiliary lane exists on some motorways including the M50. This lane is separated from the main carriageway by road markings that are closer together than standard broken white lines. These lanes allow people to join the motorway and leave the motorway in a safe way in advance of a junction or exit. Auxiliary lanes also give drivers extra time to merge onto the main carriageway when joining the motorway.
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