Motorway Driving in Ireland

Martin Reilly is one of Ireland’s most respected and experienced driver  trainers.

He served as an Advanced Driving Instructor with An Garda Síochána, holds  a National Diploma in Advanced Driving Instruction, an IOSH Certificate in Health & Safety and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

He also holds a Certificate in Public Relations from UCD and serves  as  the PR Representative with the Irish School of Motoring, with a view to increasing  the profile of professional driver training in Ireland.


Accident records show that, statistically, motorways are the safest roads.

Motorway accidents often involve several fast-moving vehicles and consequently result in more serious injuries and damage than accidents on other roads.

There is often little room for error when driving at speed on a motorway. The generally higher speeds and the volume of traffic mean that conditions can change much more quickly on motorways than on other roads.

Because of this you need to be:

  • Totally alert
  • Concentrating fully
  • Assessing ahead
  • Physically fit

If you aren’t, you may fail to react quickly enough to any sudden change in traffic conditions ahead and to either side of your vehicle.


Joining a Motorway

Before joining a motorway try to assess the traffic conditions, volume and speed on the motorway.

You may be able to do this as you approach from a distance or, if not, just before joining it. Get as much information as you can to help you to plan your speed on the slip road.

You must give way to traffic already on the motorway. Do not stop at the end of the acceleration lane. You must ensure all round observation and assess the speed of traffic on lane 1.

When entering the motorway you must exercise care and attention, and yield to traffic on lane 1

Use the acceleration lane to build up your speed before merging into traffic on the motorway.

  • Signal early to motorists of your intention to merge.
  • As you approach on the slip road, check in your mirrors and any blind spots in your vehicle for a safe gap in traffic in lane 1 of the motorway. (if you get this right you have an excellent chance of completing this manoeuvre correctly and safely) 
  • Obey road signs and markings.
  • Do not drive on hatch markings before merging with lane 1.
  • Give way to traffic already on lane 1.
  • Adjust your speed as you join the motorway, as near as possible the speed limit for that lane.

(Do you see why L drivers are not allowed on motorways, this is quite tricky to get right and requires experience behind the     wheel/handlebars)

  • Treat each lane change as a separate manoeuvre.
  • Stay in lane 1 long enough to adjust to the speed of traffic before attempting to overtake.
  • Don’t pull into the path of traffic in lane 1 if this would cause it to slow down or swerve. 
  • Don’t drive along the hard shoulder to filter into lane 1, judge this manoeuvre accurately.
  • Don’t stop on a motorway 
  • Use the hard shoulder to stop in an emergency.

Motorway speed limits

Know and understand the speed limit for your category of vehicle/drawing vehicle/ HGV/ motorcycle.

The maximum speed limit on a motorway is 120km per hour unless:

  • There are signs stating another speed limit – for example, warning signs to indicate roadworks – or
  • You are driving a vehicle that is subject to a lower limit such as a truck or bus/coach.
  • Your stopping distance travelling at 120 km per hour in dry conditions is about the length of a soccer pitch. Double this on wet roads. 
  • HGV’s is max 90km where no lower speed limit is in place.
  • Buses (not designed for carrying standing passengers) are 100km per hour on motorways or dual carriageways where no lower speed limit is in place.

When merging and indeed driving on Motorways, use all mirrors on your vehicle to monitor traffic in front, beside and behind you especially HGV’s/Coaches and fast moving motorcycles perhaps filtering between lines of traffic.

Glance in your mirrors often, however, when you are glancing in your mirrors you are not looking at the road ahead. Glance quickly (about a second) understand what you are seeing in your mirrors.

Do not glance from one mirror to the next without placing your eyes back on the road.

Use your mirrors to check you are keeping a straight line inside your lane markings and not drifting to one side.

Motorcyclists don’t forget the Life Saver (Once again you can now see why L drivers are not permitted on motorways)

That’s enough for now. We will revisit this again in future articles.

Be safe out there.


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