On the motorway
- You must only drive ahead. No turning or reversing is permitted.
- You must progress at a speed and in a way that avoids interference with other motorway traffic.
- You must not drive on any part of the motorway that is not a carriageway; for example a hard shoulder, except in case of emergency.
- You must not stop or park on any part of the motorway unless your vehicle breaks down or you are signalled by a Garda to do so.
- You must not drive a type of vehicle that is restricted to a maximum vehicle speed limit of 80 km/h or less in the traffic lane nearest the centre median of the motorway (the outside lane). An exception to this prohibition applies at any location where the speed limit is 80km/h or less.
- You must not pick up or set down anybody on a motorway.
Using lanes properly
It is very important that you understand the purpose of each lane on a motorway. To help explain how and when to move from one lane to another, each lane is given a number. The picture below shows that lane 1 is the lane nearest the hard shoulder. This is also known as the inside lane. On a two-lane motorway, the lane nearest the central median is lane 2 (also called the outside lane). On a three-lane motorway, this lane is lane 3.
The normal 'keep left' rule applies. Stay in this lane unless you are overtaking.
On a two-lane motorway, use this for overtaking only and move back into lane 1 when you have finished. You may also use this lane to accommodate traffic merging from the left.
On a three-lane motorway, you may stay in this centre lane while there is slower moving traffic in lane 1.
If you are travelling on a three-lane motorway, you must use this lane only if traffic in lanes 1 and 2 is moving in queues and you need to overtake or accommodate merging traffic. Once you've finished overtaking, move back to your left and allow faster traffic coming from behind to pass by.
You must not use the lane nearest the central median (lane 2 or lane 3, depending on the motorway width) if you are driving:
- a goods vehicle with a design gross vehicle weight of more than 3,500 kilograms,
- a passenger vehicle with seating for more than 8 passengers (aside from the driver), or
- a vehicle towing a trailer, horsebox or caravan.
You may use it, however, in exceptional circumstances when you cannot proceed in the inner lane because of a blockage ahead. You may also use it if you are at a location on a motorway where a speed limit of 80km/h or less applies.
Keeping your distance
The Speed limits section covers the 'two second rule' to help you keep a safe distance behind the vehicle in front. Use this rule on motorways - driving too close hampers your ability to stop safely and significantly reduces your vision ahead.
When in a queue, your instinct may be to get closer to the vehicle in front to protect your position. Please remember that you must leave enough room in front of you to allow you to stop safely.
Once on a motorway, you must make a signal before every move. For example, moving from lane 3 to lane 1 involves two separate stages.
- In stage one you signal once to move from lane 3 to lane 2.
- In stage 2 you signal again to move from lane 2 to lane 1.
Checking traffic around you
Check your mirrors regularly, as you need to have a constant picture in your mind of what's going on all around you. Be very aware of your blind spots as well.
Avoid staying in other drivers' blind spots. Keep your eyes moving Ð avoid looking only at the vehicle immediately ahead. Instead, scan up the queue. Use your view to drive smoothly and avoid unnecessary braking. If you notice traffic slowing down sharply, use your hazard warning lights to warn traffic behind you.
Before changing lane, remember 'mirror, signal, mirror, manoeuvre'. Remember that traffic may be coming from behind you at speed. Checking your mirrors at least twice helps you judge this approach speed and will help you to see vehicles travelling in your blind spots.
Avoid causing another driver to brake or change lane to accommodate you while you are on the motorway (aside from joining it). Learn to read the traffic around you. A vehicle in your mirror on the motorway with its right indicator flashing is trying to tell you that it's catching up on you and intends to overtake your vehicle.
Overtake only on the right, unless traffic is travelling in slow moving queues and the traffic queue on your right is travelling more slowly than you are. If you intend to move from a slower lane to a faster lane, adjust your speed first.
Before you start to overtake, remember 'mirror, signal, mirror, manoeuvre', and look in your blind spots. Check that the way is clear (behind and ahead) and signal well in advance.
Remember that traffic will be travelling a lot faster than on ordinary roads. Be particularly careful at dusk, during darkness, and in poor weather conditions when it is more difficult to judge speed, distance and stopping distance. Signal and return to your original lane as soon as possible.
Gantries are structures used to display traffic signs above traffic lanes on motorways and dual-carriageways. They are common, so make sure you pay attention to them as well as to other signs along the side of the road.