Getting to grips with motorway driving is easier with good tyres

Getting to grips with motorway driving is easier with good tyres

20 Dec

By Gwyn Fennell

There are around 40 million full driving licence holders registered with the DVLA, and over 31 million cars licensed for use on the UK’s roads. Most have experience of driving on the motorway, and continue to regularly do so – but not all. Would it surprise you to learn that almost one third of UK drivers drivers never – or at best, very rarely – drive on the motorway? That’s a huge amount – over 13 million motorists. Imagine what congestion would be like if they all did!

But seriously, the question needs to be asked; why don’t they? For some, it’s nerves and fear. It’s undoubtedly a daunting prospect driving on the motorway for the uninitiated, and no wonder, what with all the negative coverage motorways get in the media. Not a day seems to go by without reports of a fatal accident on one motorway or another. High speed crashed, multi-vehicle pile-ups, and the resultant tailbacks that last for hours – with this perception, if you’d never driven on a motorway before, why would you?

Of course the day to day reality of driving is completely different. Anyone who drives regularly on the nation’s major road network will typically attest to a incident-free journey. Fatal accidents are not really that common, especially given the volume of traffic that passes through the motorway network every day. In fact you’re more likely to have an accident on a normal road than on a motorway, but these are very rarely reported in the media – unless of course there has been a  loss of life.

You’re a hard habit to shake

Remember when you’d just passed your driving test? Mixed in with the excitement of being able to drive was a little nervousness, right? This was especially the case on motorways, but – like most new drivers – you went on to become a regular user of these roads. Soon enough it all became very normal. Now, from being insecure to becoming super confident, most motorists don’t give motorway driving a second thought. Familiarity and repetition have – for many drivers – done away with any caution that was once there, and as a result, some have fallen into bad driving habits – often the very reason behind so many of the accidents on motorways. With this in mind, we can all learn from these essential motorway driving tips:
  • Safe stopping distances help avoid accidents
    Stopping distances are important – and could just help you avoid an accident. It’s essential that you always allow enough room beween you and the vehicle in front, so that, if necessary, you can safely pull up to complete stop. This means avoiding tailgating, which leaves you vulnerable to collision if the vehicle in front unexpectedly brakes. If you’re forced to veer out of lane, you’re at risk of a side-on collision, or of being hit from behind. Be sure to adhere to the Highway Code’s ‘two second’ rule on dry roads, and double the space between vehicles to four seconds when it’s raining, or the surface is wet. You should allow for even greater distances when the weather is either icy or foggy.
  • Drive in the left hand lane
    It’s quite simple, really; except when you’re overtaking, or have otherwise been directed by the police or other uniformed authority, always stay in the left hand lane when driving on the motorway. Why? Because this allows your fellow motorway users to overtake safely. Considerate lane usage allows traffic flow to move at a constant speed, without interruption, minimising congestion – which can result in vehicles becoming too bunched together, increasing the likelihood of collisions. It’s worth remembering that if you’re caught hogging the middle lane by the Police, or CCTV, you’re at risk of incurring points on your licence, as well as a fine.
  • Indicating your intentions keeps other drivers informed
    The old saying goes “timing is everything”, and this is certainly the case when it comes to indicating before you switch lanes on a motorway. You should always indicate before switching lanes, and with goog notice. If you don’t, other drivers won’t know your intentions, and that increases the chances of collision. Nobody wants someone unexpectedly pulling out in front of them, do they?
  • Speeding is often the quick way to an accident
    Polite reminder; it is illegal to drive faster than 70 mph on any UK public road, including motorways! Sometimes, even this maximum speed is not always an option, with variable speeds posted on motorway signs and gantries constantly in effect, and subject to change without warning. Given the sophistication of detection technology arrayed across the road network (including ‘The Long Ranger’, a new camera being trialed on the M4 and M5 that can produce clear video footage and photographs of drivers from 1,000 metres away) and a climate of aggressive enforcement, if you’re caught speeding you should expect to incur a hefty fine, as well as penalty points on your licence. Stick to driving at a steady, constant speed, since it provides you more control of your vehicle.
  • Stay sharp, stay focused
    All driving requires complete focus and attention, at all times. Distractions – whether external or internal – can lead to accidents. Many motorists still believe it is okay to use their mobile phones while at the wheel – it’s not. Great care and attention are always required when driving, to help ensure both yours and your fellow motorists’ safety. Travelling at high speed is a responsibility, one not to be taken lightly. By paying attention to what’s going on around you, up ahead, and behind, you’ll be better prepared in the event of a potential accident. You should be constantly checking your mirrors, and looking further ahead –  continuously assessing your surroundings.

If you fit good tyres, your driver safety is improved

The only things between you, your vehicle, and the motorway are your tyres. As such, their condition – whether good or bad – will have a direct impact on your ability to drive safely –especially when braking or swerving in wet conditions. Having 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 motorway. The crucial factors that play a roll in whether your tyres are fit for purpose include: This last point is especially important, as it can make all the difference on a motorway – especially with today’s lack of hard shoulders to stop on…

Avoiding the hard shoulder if you sustain a puncture

Today, many 'smart motorways' are in operation. For the uninitiated – such as the millions of UK drivers that do not travel on them – smart motorways were first introduced in the UK over a decade ago. They make use of the hard shoulder as an additional lane, with the intention of improving traffic flow and reducing congestion.
Whether this measure has been a success or not – and it’s debatable – the result has been a reduction of places to stop your car in the event of an emergency or breakdown. This is problematic, particularly if your emergency concerns your vehicle’s engine, or some other mechanical fault.

But what about if you have a problem with your tyres – specifically, if you sustain a puncture? In the past, motorists have stopped on the hard shoulder to change their tyre, reasonably safely. However, in today’s fast moving, more dangerous driving conditions, changing out a tyre is not something that anyone should willing want to undertake.

Why? Because DoT (Department for Transport) figures show that between 2011 and 2016 there were 285 collisions involving a stationary vehicle on the hard shoulder. A further 118 collisions were recorded involving a vehicle either entering or driving away from the hard shoulder, or lay-by. 38 people lost their lives in these incidents. Put simply, stopping on the hard shoulder is best avoided, if at all possible.

In the case of punctures, this is easily achievable, by fitting tyres that employ self sealing and run-flat tyre technologies, like those made by leading premium tyre maker, Continental.

Fitting good tyres makes motorway driving safer and more pleasant

Contiseal™ technology negates the need for drivers to stop on a motorway hard shoulder for a tyre change. It’s been brilliantly engineered to seal a punctured tyre – up to 5 mm wide – thanks to a gum-like sealant layer inside the wheel. Drivers can safely continue on their journey, with no need for an immediate stop or roadside tyre change. Driving performance is the same as that of a tyre in usual condition without ContiSeal™, providing motorists with time to change their tyre later, in a safer, more suitable environment.

The Continental Self-Supporting Runflat (SSR) tyre is another superb extended mobility solution that does away with the need to immediately stop and change tyre on the motorway. It provides motorists with the opportunity to drive a further 50 miles (at a maximum speed of 50 mph) in the event of a puncture. This negates the need to carry a spare wheel in your vehicle, and SSR is compatible with conventional wheel rims. The technology is based on a self-supporting, reinforced sidewall which prevents the tyre from being crushed between the rim and the ground, or slipping off the rim.

And Continental’s tyre technology isn’t just about safety. ContiSilent™ minimises your vehicle’s interior cabin noise. Its noise-reducing properties work on all road surfaces, and in all weather conditions. This makes ContiSilent™ tyres ideal for driving long distances on the motorway, where sound levels can often become high and irritating. The technology provides drivers with enhanced comfort, peace and quiet without a reduction in driving performance characteristics, mileage or load/speed capability is experienced.


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 all three tyre types; summer, winter, and all season. This UK industry first acknowledges the superior safety and comfort characteristics of Continental’s PremiumContact™ 6, WinterContact™ TS 860, and AllSeasonContact™ – all ideal for motorway driving.

Get your next set of Continental Tyres at Protyre - Buy online and save £££s!


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