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Can Unimogs go on motorways?

Unimogs are best suited to navigating difficult and supposedly impassable terrain. Whether it's a rough woodland, snow-covered tracks, or deep mud, Unimogs are revered for their off-road capability - and rightly so! But their on-road capability, or lack thereof, is rarely spoken about. So what can you actually comfortably do with one? A large part of our driving lives involves the motorway, could you theoretically take your Unimog?

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Words by: Auto Trader

Published on 25 March 2021 | 0 min read

Can a Unimog go on a motorway
The mammoth of Mercedes-Benz is probably not going to be anyone's first choice when it comes to comfortable motorway transport, however, it's nice to know that you can in the event you have to. Similarly, you may not ever plan to take your watch 200m underwater, but it's nice to know it would still be fine if it ever found itself there.
The first question is one of legality - can you legally drive your Unimog on the motorway? The simple answer is yes, as long as it's registered for use on the road. This is an important consideration, even though it sounds obvious. The reason is that Unimogs are so often used for their off-road capabilities, that many organisations who use them there exclusively see no point in registering them for road use because they never take them on the road. If your Unimog is road-registered, however, then it's totally fine to drive it on the motorway.
Is your Unimog fast enough?
We all know the maximum speed limit of the UK motorway is 70mph - and that's what we stick to. Don't we?
But what about the minimum speed? The reality of the matter is there is no clearly defined minimum speed you have to travel to be able to use a motorway, it's more an issue of discretion and safety. If you have a small and very slow vehicle it's probably best to avoid the motorway in case you get involved in an accident with higher speed traffic. This, naturally, isn't much of a concern with the Unimog, as nothing short of a fully articulated truck is going to make the Mighty Mog break anything approaching a sweat in a collision. So safety isn't a concern. What about speed though? This is where you might think there would be more of an issue because Unimogs are not exactly known for their outright speed. And rightly so, as a Unimog is far more at home crawling through harsh terrain at 7mph than it is barrelling down the motorway at 70. The Unimog is without a doubt a very slow vehicle. But it's not as slow as you might think! EU market Unimogs have a limited top speed of 56mph. This, of course, is not very fast, but it's actually the same speed limit that trucks and other heavy goods vehicles have to abide by when using the motorway. Given how many trucks use the motorway network in a day, that speed obviously isn't an issue.
What should you keep in mind?
Legal guidelines dictate that if you're driving a slow vehicle on the motorway that you must keep to the left-hand lane as much as possible. Overtakes are allowed if you come upon traffic driving slower than you, which in a Unimog is quite unlikely, but you must return to the left lane as soon as you have safely passed the vehicle.
Something else to consider is that the Unimog is not a vehicle made for darting in between traffic. It's a heavy, slow, lumbering beast of a vehicle designed to crawl up the side of mountains. This means you should take that into account while you're driving. Think about that sheer weight, and adjust your braking distance to the vehicle in front accordingly. Give yourself lots of room. You should also give yourself lots of room when it comes to making a pass or dealing with a traffic jam. Right-hand drive Unimogs exist, but these are most often found in the Australian market. In the UK, we generally have European spec Unimogs, which means the odds are it will be left-hand drive. You need to take that into account when you're driving as well, to be familiar with your blind spots and ensure your mirrors are set correctly.
So, can you drive a Unimog on the motorway?
It'll be slow, ungainly, and you will not enjoy any traffic jams you encounter - but yes, you can legally drive a Unimog on the motorway, just give yourself plenty of time to get where you're going.
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