Being a safe highway driver is important but challenging. There are certain situations you face on the highway or interstate that you might not on local neighborhood roads.
The high speeds at which everyone is traveling is one thing that can make highway driving more challenging and dangerous. There is also the issue of trucks on the road.
With trucks, there are a host of significant risks. For example, there are truck rollover accidents. A truck rollover accident can occur with issues like speeding and improperly loaded cargo, but it can also stem from something out of the control of drivers such as high winds. Avoiding driving in high-wind conditions can help prevent this, but that’s not always feasible.
The following is a guide to safe highway driving.
Make Sure Everything On Your Vehicle Is Working Properly:
When we think about being safe on the highway we might think more about our driving habits and the actions of other drivers than we do about the condition of our vehicle, but in reality, every day millions of people get behind the wheel without realizing they are putting themselves and others at risk because of a vehicle malfunction.
There are guidelines that dictate things like how fast you can go on the road, but there aren’t the same regulations as far as whether or not your vehicle is safe to be on the highway.
Yes, you have to pass a vehicle inspection, but that’s pretty limited in its scope.
You should always make sure your car is in good operating condition. For example, are the tires inflated to the right level? Do they have enough tread? How are your lights and turn signals working?
Set aside time to regularly check out things and make sure your vehicle is ready to hit the road.
Watch Your Speed:
Behind drunk driving, speeding is the second most common reason for traffic deaths. The laws of physics show us why speeding is so dangerous when we’re behind the wheel, and it’s fairly simple. The faster you go, the more damage will be done if you are in a collision. That includes damage to your body and the people in the other vehicle.
Even going just a few miles above the posted speed limit can increase the risk of death if you are in an accident, and when you’re already traveling fast on the highway, the last thing you want to do is go beyond what the limit is.
We touched on the risks of sharing the highway with tractor-trailers, and there’s more to know relating to this issue.
Tractor-trailers have limited maneuverability paired with a massive size and weight, meaning that a collision involving one of these trucks can be devastating.
If you’re sharing the road with tractor-trailers, make sure you give them plenty of space. If you feel like a truck is following close behind you, switch lanes. A truck needs a lot more space to come to a stop than a car does, so keep an eye on this.
The blind spot of a tractor-trailer is much larger than for other vehicles, so know that if you can’t see the mirrors of a truck, the truck driver can’t see you. Always work to be visible to drivers of big trucks.
If you are going to pass a tractor-trailer, do it on the left, and don’t cut a truck off.
Drive-In The Correct Lane:
Unfortunately, people often don’t know the correct lane to be in, or they don’t follow the rules.
If you are on an interstate or highway with three or more lanes, each lane is there for a specific purpose.
The far left lane is a passing lane. This lane is meant to be used to pass traffic that’s moving slower. If you are driving for a while and won’t be exiting anytime soon, the middle lane is the right place for you and the farthest right lane is for entering and exiting traffic. If you’re in the far right lane when traffic is trying to merge, you should do your best to let them do that safely.
When you are merging onto the interstate, you use the acceleration ramp to increase your speed, so other drivers don’t have to brake as you get on. If you’re up to speed as you’re getting into the interstate, you can prevent accidents.
Drive According To The Weather Conditions:
When you’re driving on the highway or interstate, weather conditions play a big role in what you should and shouldn’t do.
If you’re driving in less than optimal weather conditions, you want to make sure that you can see well. You also want other drivers to be able to see you, so put your headlights on if it’s foggy, raining, sleeting, or there’s any other kind of weather that could make visibility more challenging.
If you can avoid it, try to stay off highways during fog, rain, snow, or ice. If you can’t avoid it, make sure that you leave plenty of room between yourself and the vehicle in front of you, and ensure you have enough time to stop if anything comes up.
If the road is slippery for any reason, you will likely skid if you have to stop too fast.
Finally, even when you are a safe driver, and you pay careful attention to what’s happening on the road in front of you, accidents can happen. If you experience an emergency on the highway what should you do?
First, you should never stop on the highway unless it is a true emergency and you have to. If you do need to stop, pull over as far as you can to the shoulder, and turn on your flashers. Only stop on the right side, and stay in your car unless you don’t have any other option.
Driving on the highway can be stressful, so always be aware and vigilant and practice defensive driving, focusing on yourself and others around you.