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You can get onto a motorway in two ways.

Firstly, you can find that the road you are on eventually turns into motorway and the only thing you have to do, is keep driving along. Signs warning you of this will be present well before this change occurs. Of course, if you don’t want the motorway, you will have to turn off in good time.

Or, you can join at a slip road which will take you to the motorway where you will see the relevant signage showing you the way.

The easiest way onto the motorway is when the main road becomes a motorway – you really don’t need to do anything different except perhaps an increase in your speed.

Joining from a slip road

The slip road seems to be the most common way to enter the motorway and this means you have to match your vehicle’s speed with the speed of the traffic on the motorway. You must give priority to the traffic already on the motorway, and you must never cross from the slip road and go directly into either the second or third lanes, stay in the first lane for a while until the traffic has adjusted, then you can make your planned move into the lanes to the right, should you need to.

Things to remember when joining the motorway:

  • Give priority to traffic on the motorway
  • Assess and adjust your speed to match traffic already on the motorway
  • Use your mirror signal manoeuvre routine
  • Take a quick sideways glance to see if it is ok to proceed and to check the position of others.
  • Try to avoid having to stop at the end of the slip road, unless the traffic on the motorway is moving very slowly.
  • Indicate your intention to join the motorway, with a good long signal.
  • Never force yourself into the motorway, there lies danger, but try to merge into the traffic.
  • Never use the hard shoulder as a slip road.

As you drive along the motorway you will see the exit slip road, which will indicate to you the presence of other motorists wanting to join the motorway.

You can help potential traffic entering the motorway by carefully moving over from the left hand lane, to the middle lane. This will help them join more safely. If this is impossible due to heavy traffic in the other lanes, try to adjust your speed to allow the joining traffic some space. Never get into a race with them. Look well ahead and see what vehicles are joining and how they are spaced, and consider adjusting your speed.

Occasionally, you will be required to join the motorway from a slip road on the right. This is a difficult situation must be handled very carefully.


Traffic on motorways travels at higher speeds than normal ordinary roads because mostly there are no bends, not junctions, roundabouts or steep hills, traffic lights or pedestrians. However, because of the speeds involved you have to give yourself greater margins and bigger spaces.

You may sometimes see signage telling you to travel no less than a certain amount – a minimum speed limit. Obey these signs. They are there for a reason.


  1. On short sliproads in heavy fast traffic not all motorway users are obliging to help you slip in between the traffic in the slow lane- when I’m on the motorway and see traffic on the slip rd trying to get on – I slow down a little enough so they can slip on maybe not everyone is as considerate, you can get to the end of a short slip road sooner than you realise,

  2. Question : I was on a slip road this evening, and all the traffic was following a lead car that had just set off same time as me, down the slip road but on the 2nd lane (rather than the 1st). I proceeted to accelerate down the 1st lane of the same slip road, and over take the lead driver on the 2ndl lane.

    The driver then flashed at me as though I was in the wrong. Was I ?

    NB : I merged the traffic around 50pm (M65, 5pm)

  3. It’s ok saying build up speed to match motorway traffic on the slip road but sometimes you get to the end of the slip road and the vehicle in the left lane hasn’t slowed or moved over so you have to stop and wait for a safe space to join or you’ll just come out right in front of a vehicle doing 70mph “or more in most idiots cases” forcing them to hit the brakes or risking slamming into your rear at such high speeds.


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