Motorway tips for driving in Ireland
A [long] while ago I gave a series of tips for those new to Irish roads.
As the holiday season is fast approaching I thought it might be an idea to brush up on some of the more common techniques used on Irish motorways. I hope this is helpful to anyone wishing to visit our sunny[?] isle, though it should also help learner drivers.
Now I hasten to add that none of these techniques will appear in the handbooks, mainly because those handbooks were generally written back in the days before motorways were invented. These tips are all garnered by myself during my extensive travels and my extensive research and experience
Slip roads are a contentious subject, mainly because of a complete lack of understanding as to their purpose. When entering a motorway you will be presented with one of these. The trick is to stop dead as soon as you realise you are on a slip road. This is just a precaution in case you decide to reverse and go a different route.
Once you have entered the slip road you then proceed at 20mph [or 30kph depending on which is slower]. About half way along the slip road you come to a complete halt in the sure knowledge that all traffic on the motorway will come to a standstill to allow you to safely enter.
If for some unfathomable reason traffic refuses to stop for you, then it is perfectly acceptable to accelerate up to 20mph again and just pull out into the nearest lane. The flashing of lights and honking of horns is a quaint Irish custom of congratulating you on your excellent driving skills and welcoming you to the motorway so feel proud of yourself!
Irish motorways all have one factor in common which confuses a lot of people – they only have one lane. Now it may appear at first sight that they have two or even three lanes but this is an historical anomaly. The fact is that all cars drive in the outside lane, leaving the inner lane[s] for the occasional lorry and drivers who don’t really know about motorways.
So having entered the motorway your next objective is to enter the outside lane as quickly as possible. Don’t worry if there are no gaps in the traffic as a quick flick of your indicators will ensure that a gap will somehow miraculously appear for you to fill. Generally Irish motorists will drive at speed with about a car’s length between then so it should be no problem filling that little gap.
Once you have reached the outer lane you can relax. You then pick a speed that you feel comfortable with and stick with that. Again, hooting of horns and flashing of headlights are just a sign of approval at your chosen speed.
As with chain saws and birth control, accidents can happen even on motorways. This is your opportunity for fame and notoriety on your social medium of choice. Upon arriving at the accident scene it is quite acceptable to stop and get some photographs of the scene for Farcebook or Instagram, or if you are really lucky, to make a video which will become a YouTube sensation. If some official is waving at you, just wave back. We’re a friendly lot, us Irish.
Leaving the motorway:
This is simplicity itself. You are driving along happily on the outside land and you’ll see a huge sign announcing that you are approaching your exit. Don’t worry about that as the exit is still some distance away [maybe a whole kilometre]. You can safely ignore that.
A bit further on you’ll see another sign and shortly after that a series of rectangular signs with three, two and one diagonal stripes. This is your cue. Immediately pull from the outside lane to the exit ramp. Again a quick flick of the indicator will give you right of way, but that is optional.
So there you have it. You are now indistinguishable from all the experienced motorway users.
My first trip on an Irish motorway was very much like that, but done in a motorhome with very limited room for fast reactions as people appeared out of nowhere across all three lanes. After 50 miles or so, it seemed normal, so we carried on. However, in the city, we learned that signalling direction was not always accurate. Five or six times we were overtaken by cars indicating right, but actually turning left. Few even slowed down for red traffic lights. Do all Irish have a death wish?
Irish driving is an art in itself. The general rule is to confuse everyone else as much as possible. I think I may have written a chapter or two in the past about indicators. Maybe I should do an update on that too?
Traffic lights are for wimps.
Yes, please. We are coming back for more lessons soon.
No mention at all about how using mobiles is legal on motorways, (only if you are traveling over 120KPH of course).
Oh dear! How frequently one overlooks the obvious? Once installed in the outside lane, anything goes. Chat on your mobile or send a few text messages? Need a shave? How's the old make-up looking? Lipstick need refreshing?
Incidentally, unless you are over 50 miles from a city you're damned lucky to ever achieve 120.
Snooker. Observe a vehicle ahead of you (best if this is a HGV or big bus) in the left lane ( this applies in countries driving on the left) ahead of you which is obviously going to want to overtake a slower vehicle in front of him/her/it/they, whatever.
Speed up and draw alongside the HGV/bus and slow down to his speed.
Once you have caused it to slow to the speed of the slow vehicle, put the foot down and bugge r off. This works best on uphill gradients.
Simple cuntishness. Overtake and pull in in front and then slow down.
Are you fucking kidding me? The fucker will pull out regardless and plough you into the central barrier!
Oh. Wow. I really didn't know until now that the best part of the German population is Irish! Wow.
Our methods must be going international?!
I once drove from Dublin Airport to Galway, an entertaining and illuminating experience; Irish motorways can become side roads with no sort of warning, folks driving are always friendly, waving and gesticulating at a poor Brit that is almost lost, I drove along a toll road and didn't have to pay anything ! How nice ! Also, hire cars can exceed the speed limit ! Yes, its true ! I drove as fast as my cheap and cheerful hire care would go ! The people in Galway are very laid back, inviting me to have another pint even though I had to drive back to my hotel. The only confusing thing was kilometers, what on earth are these ? Was I in France ?
Kilometres were introduced just to show how European we are. I still mentally convert them to miles to judge distance though. You can't beat the Old Money.
A few years ago near Galway, so an N road rather than an actual motorway, we followed an obviously very, very drunk driver at 60 to 70mph for about 10 miles. He was all over the place, even once causing a car coming the other way to swerve to avoid him! I haven't seen anyone that drunk on our roads in years.
Years ago in the lake district, I caught up with two drivers in the outside lane of a dual carriageway. The one at the front of our small queue was doing about 50, so I slowed down for a while to see what was going on. I was on a bike, so passing would have been quick and easy, but I could not understand firstly why the lead river simply did not change lane to get out of the way, and secondly, why the driver behind did not pass on the inside? We were in the middle of nowhere, and there was no other traffic for miles. The second car was obviously starting to get a bit irritated, because I could hear him honking his horn, and he was repeatedly pulling up close to the first car, then falling back. After a while he did pass on the inside lane, but instead of just smoking rubber and clearing off, he then pulled into the outside lane, and proceeded on for a bit at the same speed as the original front car had. When the gap between him and the following car had closed to near nothing, he slammed on his brakes, causing the original dozy driver to near brick himself; locking wheels and swerving all over the place. For a moment I thought he was going to lose it completely and end up in the ditch. I was glad that I had left a good gap between myself and these two idiots.
I was at a wedding many years ago in England and got talking to the brides uncle. He had been in the forces and had served in Ireland at the start of the troubles. He described manning a roadblock near Derry where a few questions were being asked of each driver. An older man, in a southern registered Morris Minor van approached, and when he wound down his window he was apparently reeking of booze. The soldier asked if he had anything in the back of the van, and was surprised that the driver apparently found this question humorous, so he got one of his colleagues to look in the back. There was nothing in the van, because the van had no floor, it was completely rusted away. The rear axel was held in place by an elaborate construction of boards all tied to what was left of the van. They let him go, advising him to drive carefully.
Doing 50 in the outside lane is quite common. Technically it's illegal to pass on the wrong side but sometimes it's unavoidable. Usually the offender intends to turn off at some point, at the last possible moment and of course without indicating.
What do you need a floor for if you don't want to carry anything? Sure, slap a plank or two and tie 'em together with binding twine and they'll be grand. However, don't forget to not go for the NCT road test. Them lads can be fierce picky.
Fortunately for the auld lad in the Minor, I don't think that vehicle testing existed back then? Maybe progress, even if it includes a bit more bureaucracy is a good thing……on occasion.