Motorway safety

Motorway safety

In 2004, 14,308 people were hurt in UK motorway crashes, including 164 killed and a further 1137 seriously injured.

The fact is, there are fewer crashes per mile travelled on motorways than on other roads, but when they occur, they are more likely to be fatal because of the high speeds involved.

Here's our guide to safer motorway driving.

Don't tailgate
When you're in a rush, it's tempting to put pressure on the driver in front by getting close to their bumper and hope they'll move over.

It's a highly risky strategy - tailgating is involved in one third of motorway crashes that result in injury and can provoke dangerously erratic behaviour in other drivers.

To check you're at a safe distance, watch when the vehicle in front passes an object and count. If you pass the same object before you've got to two seconds, you're too close (four in wet weather).

Don't hog the centre lane
Sometimes, when the motorway is almost deserted, you'll see a car trundling up the middle lane at 60mph.

It's tempting to 'undertake', but that's risky, because some drivers don't check their nearside mirror before moving into the inside lane. So, just move into the outside lane.

There really is no justifying hogging the centre lane and, anyway, it's illegal if the inside lane is empty. Some people feel safer there, but it's actually no more dangerous in the inside lane.

The Highways Agency has trialled a new device to screen off crash scenes and, hopefully, stop drivers from being distracted.

If there is an incident to either side, fight your curiosity and keep your eyes fixed straight ahead.

You'll help traffic flow and reduce the risk of crashing into the car in front of you.

What to do if your car breaks down
Switch on your hazard lights (and side lights at night), and, if you have a warning triangle, place it 45 metres behind your car.

If you break down on the motorway, it's particularly important you keep your wits about you, as more than 1500 people are killed or injured on the hard shoulder each year.

Get your vehicle as close to the side of the hard shoulder as possible, and, before you get out, check that it's safe for you and your passengers to do so.

Choose a safe spot at the side of the motorway while you wait for recovery.