Use the two second rule for safer motorway journeys

Posted on January 31st, 2019 by GEM Motoring Assist

Motorway driving

GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging drivers to put safety first on motorway journeys, by always using the ‘two second rule’. This, says GEM, will ensure you keep a safe space in front of you and reduces the risk of ‘rear-ending’ the vehicle in front.


GEM road safety officer Neil Worth offered some reassurance for drivers: “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,” he said.


“However, the high speeds used on motorways mean that when there is a crash, it is likely to be more serious. That’s why on average around one in 50 motorway collisions is fatal, compared with one in 70 on all other roads1.”


The risks are greatest on motorways in the following situations:

  • When there is insufficient time and space between vehicles travelling at high speed.
  • When drivers are avoidably distracted – often by using a mobile phone, re-setting the satnav or attempting to eat and drink at the wheel.
  • As a result of poor lane discipline – for example, driving in the middle lane when the left hand lane is empty, or from changing lanes without proper observations or signalling.
  • When traffic is heavy and motorway speeds are constantly varying, largely due to the frustration experienced by some drivers.
  • When traffic is light and there is little or nothing to engage the attention of a driver on a long journey. It’s at these times that alertness can drop and concentration can dip, making it easy to miss a developing hazard.
  • Around junctions, when drivers are leaving or joining the motorway. Too often drivers make last-minute decisions, and end up cutting across lanes of traffic to get off the motorway or into the correct lane if the carriageway is about to split. Busy urban stretches of motorway are particularly risky, as there are often several junctions and intersections across short distances.


Neil Worth added: “By acknowledging these risks, you are taking a big step toward making a motorway journey safer.”


GEM has compiled 10 tips for safer motorway driving:

  1. Plan your journey so you know when to join and leave the motorway. You’re far less likely to be taken by surprise when it comes to choosing the correct lane at junctions and intersections.
  2. Choose a safe speed and use the left hand lane of the motorway unless you are overtaking.
  3. Check your following distance by the ‘two second rule’. Watch the vehicle in front go past a signpost, under a bridge or past some other reference point. Then speak out: “Only a fool breaks the two second rule.” If you pass the same point before you have finished the sentence, then you are too close.
  4. Double your following distance in wet weather.
  5. Scan the road a long way ahead so that you have early sight of developing hazards.
  6. Make regular mirror checks. If you observe a fast-approaching vehicle, then take steps to move out of its way.
  7. Before changing lanes, check your mirrors and blind spots, and indicate your intention to move either left or right. Only commence the manoeuvre when you know you can complete it safely.
  8. Avoid any sort of distraction. No mobile phone, no interfering with stereo or satnav, no eating or drinking. Give 100% of your attention to driving.
  9. Never stop on the hard shoulder, central reservation or verges of a motorway except in an emergency or when told to by police or traffic officers.
  10. If you’re about to miss your motorway exit, don’t make last-minute risky manoeuvres to leave the motorway. Continue to the next junction and turn around, or follow the revised satnav instructions.


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