Motorway Driving

Top motorway driving and tyre tips

Motorway driving; it’s a skill in itself, and a thrill for many. Since the completion of the Major Inter-Urban Motorway Project, in December 2010, Ireland now has just under 1,000 km of motorway network. This is predominantly two-lane dual carriageways, but also includes three lane and – in the case of the M50 – four lane sections. Looking forward, there are provisional plans to increase our motorway network to approximately 1,100 km by 2035.

While most drivers are considerate on the motorway – driving within the law – there are many who take the responsibility a little too lightly, often putting their fellow motorists at risk of accident, or worse. For many drivers, motorway driving has become all too familiar and commonplace, resulting in a blasé attitude to driver safety. This, coupled with an indifferent,  laissez faire attitude towards fitting good tyres to their vehicles, presents an increasing danger for Ireland’s drivers. Fitting part worn tyres remains a first choice for many, something that we – as Ireland’s leading tyre professionals – unequivocally recommend against doing.

For many newly licenced drivers, the motorway has proven to be best avoided. Fear and insecurity of driving on these major roads is understandable, given the perceived dangers of motorway driving for the uninitiated. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are some fundamental driving practices that can help to keep all of us safer on the motorway. With this in mind, the Advance Pitstop team offer these simple – yet essential – motorway driving and tyre tips, to help keep you and your fellow motorists safer on the road this winter.

Having sufficient stopping distances is vital

The distance between you and the vehicle in front is crucial. Always allow enough room so that, if necessary, you can safely pull up to complete stop, avoiding collision. Tailgating – driving much too closely to the vehicle in front, often aggressively – is both dangerous and often intimidating for other motorists. Tailgating leaves you vulnerable if the vehicle in front suddenly brakes without warning. Stopping distances can often be unpredictable, especially in difficult driving conditions – such as when the road is wet, or greasy, or if it’s raining heavily, hampering your vision – and you won’t always have enough time to brake safely. Avoiding a frontal collision and veering out of lane will put you at risk of a side-on collision, or of being hit from behind.

The Road Safety Authority’s publication, ‘Rules of the Road’, clearly states that if you’re travelling at [the maximum speed limit of] 120 km/h in dry conditions, it will typically take you 102 meters – approximately 27 car lengths – to come to a stop. Remember, your stopping distance is a combination of ‘thinking distance’ and ‘braking distance’. With this in mind, make sure the gap to the vehicle in front is suitable for you to come to a safe stop, without the need to take avoiding action – and even more so in wet driving conditions.

Drive in the left hand lane to do things right

Apart from when overtaking, or otherwise directed by the Garda or other uniformed authority, always drive in the left hand lane of the motorway. This will allow your fellow motorists to safely overtake, resulting in better traffic flow, and a quicker, smoother journey for us all. If you don’t follow this guidance, and unnecessarily hog in the middle or outside lane, you’re most likely going to be responsible for slowing traffic down, and causing congestion. When vehicles become too bunched up, there’s an increased risk of collisions. If you’re caught doing this by the Garda, you’re at risk of incurring points on your licence, and a fine.

Indicating your intentions makes life safer for other drivers

They say that ‘timing is everything’, and this is particularly true when it comes to indicating before switching lanes. You should always give a sufficient amount of notice, otherwise how can your fellow motorists know your intentions? You’re at greater risk of causing an accident if you don’t indicate in good time, putting both yours and other drivers’ lives at risk – and no one wants someone unexpectedly pulling out in front of them, right?

Speeding is often the quickest way to having an accident

It is illegal to drive any faster than 120 km/h on Irish motorways – period. And this maximum speed is not always going to be an option, either, as 2019 will see – for example – variable speeds introduced to the M50. They’ll constantly be in effect, and subject to sudden change. With the array of sophisticated detection technology across the motorway network, and the current climate of aggressive enforcement, the chances are if you’re caught speeding you will incur a fine, as well as penalty points.

Instead, choose to drive at a constant, steady speed. This will give you greater control of your vehicle. If instead you choose to continually accelerate and decelerate unnecessarily – switching in and out of lanes – you’re at much greater risk of experiencing an accident.

Stay alert, pay attention

It’s a fact that some motorists treat driving as a full-on leisure activity, and while we do understand that it can be exciting and fun, first and foremost it’s a responsibility – not to be taken lightly. Which is why it’s bewildering – and literally criminal – that some motorists still think it’s  reasonable to use their smartphones while at the wheel. Frankly, it’s not.

The reality is that great care and attention are required to help ensure both yours and your fellow motorists safety, particularly on motorways. Why? Because travelling at high speed demands your complete attention. To improve your driver safety, you should always be aware of what’s going on immediately around you, as well as up ahead and behind. This way, you’ll be better prepared to react in the event of spotting a potential accident, or if one takes place.

Fitting the right tyres makes all the difference to motorway driving

Remember, the only things between you, your car, and the road are your tyres – so they better be good! Why? Because their condition – whether good or bad – has a direct impact on your ability to drive safely, particularly when having to brake. Ensuring that your tyres generate sufficient grip is vital to remaining in control of your vehicle, no matter what type of road you’re driving on – but especially so on a fast moving, often wet motorway. Many factors play a roll in determining whether your tyres are at their optimum, including:

This last point is can make all the difference on a wet, fast moving motorway – something that we get a lot of in Ireland…

The hard shoulder is a last resort – and best avoided

While motorways are relatively safe – in relation the traffic accidents and fatalities – the most dangerous part of the network is the hard shoulder. This is where many collisions take place, often because motorists aren’t paying enough attention. As such, stopping on the hard shoulder is best avoided, if possible. Of course this can be problematic, particularly if your emergency relates to an engine or mechanical fault.

But what about if you experience a problem with your tyres – specifically, if you’re unlucky enough to sustain a puncture? Traditionally, motorists have stopped on the hard shoulder to change their tyre, or call someone to do it for them. In the long distant past, this may have been a reasonable thing to do, but in today’s fast moving, increasingly dangerous driving conditions, not something that anyone should willing want to undertake.

You can avoid the need to stop on the hard shoulder for a tyre issue by choosing to invest in tyres that employ self-sealing and run-flat technologies, like those manufactured by leading premium tyre manufacturer, Continental.

Continental: making motorway driving both safer and more pleasant

Contiseal™ technology does away with the need to stop on a motorway hard shoulder to change a tyre. It’s been specifically engineered by those clever boffins in Germany to seal a damaged tyre – punctures up to 5 mm wide – with a gum-like sealant layer inside the wheel. Drivers are able to continue on their journey, with no need for an immediate stop or roadside tyre change. Driving performance remains identical to that of a tyre in usual condition without ContiSeal™, allowing you to change your tyre later in a safer location of your choosing, or to get to a garage.

Continental Self-Supporting Runflat (SSR) tyre technology is another superb extended mobility solution that does away with the need to immediately stop and change a tyre on the motorway. In the event of a puncture, SSR tyres provide you with the opportunity to travel up to 80 km (at a maximum speed of 80 km/h) before needing to stop – typically more than enough distance to either pull over in a safer environment, or find a garage. SSR technology is based on a self-supporting, reinforced tyre sidewall. This prevents the tyre from being crushed between the rim and the ground, or slipping off the rim. As a bonus, fitting SSR means you don’t need to carry a spare tyre around with you.

There’s more to driving than only safety. Comfort matters, which is why ContiSilent™ tyre technology is so popular. Continental tyres with this tech help to noticeably minimise interior cabin noise. The tyre’s noise-reducing properties are effective on all road surfaces, and in all weather conditions. This makes ContiSilent™ tyres ideal for motorway driving, where sound levels can often become very loud at high speed. The technology provides Irish drivers with enhanced comfort, peace and quiet, but with no detrimental change in performance characteristics, mileage or load/speed capability.

Continental Tyres: All Seasons, All Weathers, All Winners

So highly regarded are their tyres that for the first time ever a single manufacturer – Continental – have won the Auto Express Tyre Test Award 2018 across summer, winter, and all-season tyre types. This unprecedented ‘triple’ acknowledges the superior safety and comfort characteristics of Continental’s PremiumContact™ 6, WinterContact™ TS 860, and AllSeasonContact™ – all perfect for safer motorway driving. Talk to your local Advance Pitstop to learn more about these tyres.