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  • Writer's pictureEllis Wood ADI

What is the definition of a dual carriageway

This question often confuses people and the most common answer I get is that it means there are two lanes on each side. If that’s what you thought then you are wrong. Sections of Borough Road in Middlesbrough have two lanes each side but it most definitely is NOT a dual carriageway. Also if you follow the a689 up to Sedgefield and turn left towards Stockton you will find a dual carriageway with only 1 lane on one side and 2 on the other.

Confused? It’s again quite simple to identify a dual carriageway. If there is a solid barrier between the lanes of tarmac (see below) then it’s a dual carriageway. That solid barrier can be a strip of grass or even a safety barrier. So that leads to the next question, what is the difference between a motorway and a dual carriageway? Well a motorway has what’s called a ‘hard shoulder’ the same width as a driving lane. A motorway DOES NOT have to have 3 lanes either and sone dual carriageways have 3 lanes (A19 between Wolviston and the A174. The most obvious difference is the colour of the sign. Motorways have roads starting with an M such as M1 and have blue backgrounds. Dual carriageways have A names like A1 and have green backgrounds on their signs. Interestingly the A1 has sections called A1M witch is classed as a motorway and all the rules that implies.

Learner drivers are prohibited from using motorways UNLESS they are accompanied by an approved driving instructor with a dual controlled vehicle and MUST display L plates.

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