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Mirror UK / Sports

Truth about whether motorway traffic officers can pull you over for speeding

Motorway driving is a serious business – it's best to be aware of the rules


It's easy to mistake a Highways England 4x4 for a police car, especially when travelling at 70mph on a motorway.

Cue, of course, a tail back of cars doing 68mph while they pass. Not only do they look like a police vehicle, but they can pull you over too, right?

Wrong. Traffic officers don't have any powers to pull a member of the public over for speeding – or any other broken law.

Traffic officers, which work for agency Highways England, are there to monitor traffic, or stop it in the case of an emergency. They're on patrol and will usually be the first on the scene.

There are other misconceptions and motorway myths you might want to brush up on and avoid.

(Image: Getty Images)
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Stopping on the hard shoulder, for example. You're not allowed to do so if you need the loo – not even for children.

The lane is for emergencies only, and it's technically illegal to use it for anything other than emergency refuge. Stopping there can lead to a £100 fine.

Even if a passenger is car sick, or you need to stop to read a map, you're supposed to keep going and pull off the motorway into a service station or junction.

About 800 people are killed every year from stopping in the hard shoulder.

Hard shoulders are dangerous places with around 800 people killed or injured every year from stopping.

You won't always be fined for driving over 70mph on the motorway.

(Image: Getty)
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70mph is the law, but it isn't hard and fast. Officers may well employ the 10 per cent plus 2mph rule on motorways, as long as motorists aren't driving erratically or dangerously.

Police won't usually act if cars are going at 79mph or below. That said, they can if they want to, and you're in no position to argue if you're stopped – even at 71mph. It all depends.

A couple more rules and regulations to be sure to be aware of on British motorways include slip roads – did you know that you don't have to give way to joining traffic.

It's common courtesy, and you probably should do, but it's safer to continue your course, as motorways are fast and you're on it. Cars merging don't have right of way.

Also, not all cars are allowed to drive in the fast lane. It's illegal for heavy goods lorries, caravans, cars with trailers, or any vehicle over 7.5 tonnes to use the third lane. Again, another £100 fine could arrive, as well as three points on your licence.

Oh, and finally – variable speed cameras? They're always on. Apparently.

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