Staying safe on


Motorway driving

ROAD safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging drivers to put safety first on motorway journeys.

GEM's advice focuses on two key aspects of motorway driving: leaving a sufficient gap from the vehicle in front and understanding the danger signs of fatigue.

GEM chief executive Neil Worth said: "Motorways may be the fastest roads we use, but they are statistically also the safest; and there are fewer collisions on motorways than on other roads."

"A serious risk occurs when there is not enough time and space between vehicles travelling at high speed. Imagine a sudden hazard ahead of you on the motorway. According to the Highway Code, if you're driving at 70mph you will need a minimum of 96 metres to come to a stop.

"We recommend that all drivers familiarise themselves with the two-second rule. It's time-based, not distance-based, so it's effective at any legal motorway speed.

"Try it out on your next motorway journey! You should note as the vehicle in front passes a fixed point, such as a sign, bridge or lamp-post. Then you say ‘Only a fool breaks the two-second rule.' If you are still speaking when you pass the same fixed point, then you are following too close."

Mr Worth added that a fatigue-related crash was around 50 per cent more likely to result in death or serious injury1, simply because a driver who has fallen asleep at the wheel would be unable to reduce speed or change direction to avoid a collision. The consequences can be devastating," he said.

"Falling asleep at the wheel is easily avoided, but it's vital you heed the many warning signs your body will give you before you actually nod off. After all, no one simply falls asleep without passing through various recognisable stages of tiredness and distraction.

"You will experience difficulty focusing on your driving, you may fidget, yawn constantly and rub your eyes frequently. You may find your thoughts constantly wandering away from driving, you may drift to the left or right, you may be slowing down without realising and you'll suddenly find you cannot recall anything that happened in the past few minutes.

"Don't ever get that tired when driving. On long journeys, take a break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours or 100 miles. Get out of the car, do some exercise, stretch or walk. If necessary, have a caffeine drink or two to boost your alertness.

"You will know when fatigue is affecting you. It doesn't just take you by surprise. So resist the urge to press on, and take a proper break."


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