Dual Carriageways

Dual carriageways require a slightly different approach compared to normal, city driving. When driving normally, we learn to accelerate and brake gently. It is important to recognise that to use dual carriageways safely, the ability to accelerate and decelerate rapidly is required. This means using more gas when joining the dual carriageway, and leaving gear changes slightly later in order to take advance of the greater acceleration offered by lower gears. This is especially so if travelling up hill while accelerating. Don't be afraid to make some noise with the engine, and make full use of the lower gears to fight against gravity and get the speed up!

Once on the dual carriageway you will normally be travelling at higher speeds, up to 70 MPH. This can seem very fast at first, but you will quickly adjust to the higher speed and before long it will start to feel normal. There are a lot less hazards on dual carriageways compared to most other roads: no cyclists, no pedestrians, no parked cars, no bus stops etc. This makes it possible to travel at higher speeds while still planning ahead and staying safe. Once you exit the dual carriageway, however, there is a very important transformation that must take place: you must mentally adjust to the lower speeds that are required.

When you leave a dual carriageway, your perception of speed can be heavily distorted. 30 or 40 MPH can feel very slow once you have adjusted to driving a higher speed. It is essential to recognise that, in many situations, 30 MPH is much too fast. For example, after leaving the dual carriageway you could find yourself approaching a junction such as a roundabout or a give way. Normally you would bring your speed down below 20 MPH on approach to one of these junctions, sometimes below 10 or even 5 MPH. Having just left a dual carriageway, however, 30 MPH can feel like a sensible speed to approach. Make use of your speedometer to inform you of your actual speed in these situations. Don't trust your instincts as they are likely to mislead you.

Similarly, coming into a built-up area after leaving a dual carriageway requires a significant shift in your perceptions to ensure you are travelling at a safe and sensible speed, with enough time to plan ahead and prepare well for all potential hazards.


Get animated examples with the interactive Dual Carriageways app for iPad