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Motorway Rules Category (UK)

Theory Test - Motorway Rules Category

Topics include:
  • Weather Conditions - knowing motorway speed restrictions
  • Road Surfaces - using the left-hand lane unless overtaking
  • Time of Day - knowing where you can and can't stop
  • Speed - when and where to use lights to see and be seen
  • Traffic Calming - knowing that you can only stop on a motorway in an emergency and how to use hard shoulder emergency phones.

For more detailed information on driving safely on motorways and what motorway signs mean see out motorway page.

Facts To Know

  • The national speed limit on motorways for cars and motorcycles 70 mph.
  • When joining a motorway, give way to traffic already on the motorway.
  • Vehicles towing trailers cannot travel in the right-hand lane of a motorway (unless all other lanes are closed). The maximum speed limit for them is 60 mph.
  • The left-hand lane can be used by any vehicle.
  • The left-hand lane should be used for normal driving. Use the centre and right-hand lanes for overtaking.
  • Green studs run between a motorway and its slip road.
  • White studs run between the lanes on a motorway.
  • Amber studs run between the central reservation and the carriageway.
  • Red studs run between the carriageway and the hard shoulder.
  • The hard shoulder should normally only be used for stopping in an emergency. You can however travel on the hard shoulder when signs direct you to do so.
  • An Emergency Refuge Area is an area on a motorway for use in cases of emergency or breakdown.
  • If you breakdown but can't get to the hard shoulder you should turn on your hazard warning lights.
  • If you breakdown on a motorway and need to call for help it may be better to use one of the emergency roadside phones as this way your location will be accurately known. If you use a mobile phone you can check your location from the marker posts on the left.
  • Most of the emergency phones are linked to the police, some however are linked to the Highways Agency Control Centre.
  • Highways Agency Traffic Officers are able to stop and direct anyone on a motorway.
  • A red cross displayed above a lane means do not travel in the lane.
  • A crawler lane on a motorway is found on a steep gradient.
  • A number displayed above a lane i.e. 50 means the speed limit for the lane is 50 mph.
  • If you get puncture on the motorway you should use an emergency phone and call for assistance.
  • Continuous high speeds make vehicle breakdowns more likely.
  • If traffic ahead of you slows or stops suddenly you can turn on your hazard warning lights for a short time to warn traffic behind you.
  • In a contraflow system there are likely to be lower speed limits. Contraflow systems are used to reduce traffic bunching.

You should stop on a motorway:
  • If red lights show above every lane
  • When told to by the police
  • When signalled by a Highways Agency Officer

The following cannot use the motorway:
  • Learner car drivers
  • Farm tractors and other slow-moving vehicles
  • Cyclists
  • Learner motorcyclists
  • Motorcycles under 50cc
  • Horse riders

DSA Theory Test Questions - Motorway Rules Category
1When joining a motorway you must always

Mark one answer.

Knowledge and Understanding You should give way to traffic already on the motorway. Where possible they may move over to let you in but don’t force your way into the traffic stream. The traffic may be travelling at high speed so you should match your speed to fit in.

use the hard shoulder stop at the end of the acceleration lane come to a stop before joining the motorway give way to traffic already on the motorway
2You break down on a motorway. You need to call for help. Why may it be better to use an emergency roadside telephone rather than a mobile phone?

Mark one answer.

Knowledge and Understanding On a motorway it is best to use a roadside emergency telephone so that the emergency services are able to locate you easily. The nearest telephone is shown by an arrow on marker posts at the edge of the hard shoulder. If you use a mobile, they will need to know your exact location. Before you call, find out the number on the nearest marker post. This number will identify your exact location.

It connects you to a local garage Using a mobile phone will distract other drivers It allows easy location by the emergency services Mobile phones do not work on motorways
3After a breakdown you need to rejoin the main carriageway of a motorway from the hard shoulder. You should

Mark one answer.

Knowledge and Understanding Wait for a safe gap in the traffic before you move out. Indicate your intention and use the hard shoulder to gain speed but don’t force your way into the traffic.

move out onto the carriageway then build up your speed move out onto the carriageway using your hazard lights gain speed on the hard shoulder before moving out onto the carriageway wait on the hard shoulder until someone flashes their headlights at you
4What colour are the reflective studs between a motorway and its slip road?

Mark one answer.

Knowledge and Understanding The studs between the carriageway and the hard shoulder are normally red. These change to green where there is a slip road. They will help you identify slip roads when visibility is poor or when it is dark.

Amber White Green Red
5On a three-lane motorway which lane should you normally use?

Mark one answer.

Knowledge and Understanding On a three-lane motorway you should travel in the left-hand lane unless you’re overtaking. This applies regardless of the speed at which you’re travelling.

Left Right Centre Either the right or centre
6You are joining a motorway. Why is it important to make full use of the slip road?

Mark one answer.

Knowledge and Understanding Try to join the motorway without affecting the progress of the traffic already travelling on it. Always give way to traffic already on the motorway. At busy times you may have to slow down to merge into slow-moving traffic.

Because there is space available to turn round if you need to To allow you direct access to the overtaking lanes To build up a speed similar to traffic on the motorway Because you can continue on the hard shoulder
7Which FOUR of these must not use motorways?

Mark FOUR answers.

Knowledge and UnderstandingLearner car drivers and motorcyclists are not allowed on the motorway until they have passed their practical test. Motorways have rules that you need to know before you venture out for the first time. When you’ve passed your practical test it’s a good idea to have some lessons on motorways. Check with your instructor about this.

Learner car drivers Motorcycles over 50cc Double-decker buses Farm Tractors Horse riders Cyclists
8Immediately after joining a motorway you should normally

Mark one answer.

Knowledge and Understanding Stay in the left-hand lane long enough to get used to the higher speeds of motorway traffic.

try to overtake re-adjust your mirrors position your vehicle in the centre lane keep in the left-hand lane
9You are allowed to stop on a motorway when you

Mark one answer.

Knowledge and Understanding You MUST stop if there are red lights flashing above every lane on the motorway. However, if any of the other lanes do not show flashing red lights or red cross you may move into that lane and continue if it is safe to do so.

need to walk and get fresh air wish to pick up hitchhikers are told to do so by flashing red lights need to use a mobile phone
10You are travelling along the left-hand lane of a three-lane motorway. Traffic is joining from a slip road. You should

Mark one answer.

Knowledge and Understanding You should move to another lane if it is safe to do so. This can greatly assist the flow of traffic joining the motorway, especially at peak times.

race the other vehicles move to another lane maintain a steady speed switch on your hazard flashers
11On motorways you should never overtake on the left unless

Mark one answer.

Knowledge and Understanding Only overtake on the left if traffic is moving slowly in queues and the traffic on your right is moving more slowly than the traffic in your lane.

you can see well ahead that the hard shoulder is clear the traffic in the right-hand lane is signalling right you warn drivers behind by signalling left there is a queue of slow-moving traffic to your right that is moving more slowly than you are
12The aim of an Active Traffic Management scheme on a motorway is to

Mark one answer.

Knowledge and Understanding Active Traffic Management schemes are intended to reduce congestion and make journey times more reliable. In these areas the hard shoulder may be used as a running lane to ease congestion at peak times or in the event of an incident. It may appear that you could travel faster for a short distance, but keeping traffic flow at a constant speed may improve your journey time.

prevent overtaking reduce rest stops prevent tailgating reduce congestion
13Why can it be an advantage for traffic speed to stay constant over a longer distance?

Mark one answer.

Knowledge and Understanding When traffic travels at a constant speed over a longer distance, journey times normally improve. You may feel that you could travel faster for short periods but this won’t generally improve your overall journey time. Signs will show the maximum speed at which you should travel.

You will do more start-stop driving You will use far more fuel You will be able to use more direct routes Your overall journey distance time will normally improve
14On a motorway what is used to reduce traffic bunching?

Mark one answer.

Knowledge and Understanding Congestion can be reduced by keeping traffic at a constant speed. At busy times maximum speed limits are displayed on overhead gantries. These can be varied quickly depending on the amount of traffic. By keeping to a constant speed on busy sections of motorway overall journey times are normally improved.

Variable speed limits Contraflow systems National speed limits Lane closures
15You are driving at 70 mph on a three-lane motorway. There is no traffic ahead. Which lane should you use?

Mark one answer.

Knowledge and Understanding

Any lane Middle lane Right lane Left lane