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Driving on Dual Carriageways

Driving on dual carriageways does not require you to display any driving skills that are fundamentally different to the skills needed on other types of road. However, driving safely on a dual carriageway does require certain rules of etiquette in relation to using lanes that all drivers should be aware of, so that other drivers know what you are intending to do.


Two-lane Dual Carriageways


Stay in the left-hand lane, and use the right-hand lane for overtaking other vehicles and if you need to turn right. Once you have overtaken the other vehicle, go back into the left-hand lane as soon as it is safe to do so.

Three-lane Dual Carriageways


Driving on a dual carriageway with three lanes is essentially the same as driving on a dual carriageway with two lanes, apart from the fact that there is an extra lane, which is used for overtaking purposes. You should stay in the left-hand lane for the majority of the time, and use the middle and right-hand lanes purely overtaking other vehicles. After you’ve overtaken, go back to the left-hand lane once you can safely do so.


Stopping Distances


Drivers often travel at faster speeds on dual carriageways than they do on normal roads. This has an effect on stopping distances (the distance that it takes for your vehicle to fully come to a stop after first applying the brakes). You will need to compensate for the extra speed by keeping a reasonable distance behind the vehicle in front at all times. This is generally taken to be a gap of at least two seconds (when the vehicle in front passes a fixed point, such as a tree or lamppost, it should be at least two seconds before you then pass the same point) in dry conditions. When the road is wet or icy, this gap should increase to at least four seconds (preferably a lot more than this in snowy or icy conditions), as it gives you more time to slow down and stop if an unexpected situation arises.


Speed Limits

On most dual carriageways, the maximum speed limit is 70 miles per hour (mph). In some cases though, there may be lower speed limits in place. If this is the case, there will usually be a traffic sign informing you of the maximum or minimum speed limit. It is essential that you do not go above the speed limit, as you cannot second guess what may lie in wait, especially around corners (which you will often be going into blind, with no idea of what is around the corner).

Driving on two-lane and three-lane dual carriageways does not require any particularly different driving skills to driving on a normal road, as long as you keep to the left-hand lane for the vast majority of the time, and use the right-hand lane (and the middle lane for three-lane dual carriageways) mainly for overtaking purposes. It is important to stick to this basic rule so that other drivers immediately know what to expect when you move into the lane alongside them.


Disclaimer: The information in the article is for general purpose information only and should not be constituted as legal advice. This article has been produced by a third party and Jardine Motors does not take any responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, or reliability with respect to the website or the information provided. Article last updated October 2019