When embarking on the journey of becoming a new driver, it is generally advisable to adopt a progressive approach to cultivate self-assurance by initially traversing local roads. Subsequently, one may advance to highway driving.
The initial experience of navigating through highway conditions often instills anxiety within several new drivers, given the elevated velocities involved, the intricate process of merging into traffic, and the careful maneuvering required when changing lanes on the interstate.
In 2021, a staggering 42,939 individuals lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes, emphasizing the critical importance of road safety. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s latest estimation reveals that these crashes resulted in a significant economic cost of $340 billion annually.
An analysis of accident data on a state level illustrates that Maryland is no exception to this pressing issue. With an average of 295 crashes occurring daily, the likelihood of being involved in an accident within the state is notably substantial. As such, stringent adherence to road safety practices becomes imperative in mitigating the risks posed by these common occurrences.
Despite the apparent intimidation associated with highway driving, becoming comfortable behind the wheel merely necessitates modest groundwork and practical application. In this article, we’ll mention a few tips for safe highway driving, which will aid you in ensuring your safety.
1. Highway Emergencies
Refraining from stopping on a highway unless faced with an emergency is strongly advised. Should such circumstances arise, it is imperative to promptly maneuver your vehicle as far as practicable onto the side while activating your emergency flashers.
Furthermore, if your vehicle becomes inoperable on the highway, exercising caution and adhering to proper protocols is essential. If you require towing assistance, contacting a reputable towing service is recommended to safely remove your vehicle from the highway.
For instance, if you’re driving on the highway and need a towing service, Geyer’s Towing offers a range of towing and recovery services catering to vehicles of various weight classifications. Their team of proficient tow truck operators possesses the requisite professional licensing to carry out towing operations with expertise and precision. Whether you require light-duty, medium-duty, or heavy-duty towing services, rest assured that their qualified personnel are equipped to handle your specific needs efficiently and effectively.
2. Check Weather Conditions
Before embarking on your highway journey, it is highly recommended to allocate time to assess the prevailing weather conditions. Obtaining an updated and accurate weather forecast has become increasingly convenient, thanks to the widespread availability of smartphones, smartwatches, and other interconnected devices. Avoid driving amidst unfavorable weather circumstances, such as snowstorms or heavy rainfall.
Particularly noteworthy is the heightened risk during the initial ten minutes after the onset of precipitation. This period is considered the most dangerous for highway driving, as the roads tend to be exceedingly slippery due to the combination of oil residue from vehicular traffic and the accumulation of water and debris on the pavement, leading to diminished traction.
Ideally, when driving on the highway for the first time, it is advisable to choose a day characterized by clear skies and a minimal likelihood of precipitation.
3. Maintain A Consistent Speed
Maintaining a consistent speed is of paramount importance when traversing the highway. The presence of unpredictability on the road is a significant catalyst for accidents and mishaps. Therefore, adhering to a steady velocity, preferably below the designated speed limit, is advisable. Engaging in frequent accelerations and decelerations not only contributes to an uncomfortable driving experience but also poses a heightened risk to surrounding vehicles.
It is essential to recognize that speed limits are established based on thorough research and analysis. Hence, it is prudent to remain within the prescribed speed limits, exercising additional caution by reducing speed during nighttime and in inclement weather conditions. Doing so facilitates the readiness to undertake preventive measures promptly should the need arise.
4. Pick The Right Lane
On the highway, the right lane serves as the designated merge lane, accommodating most on-ramp traffic merging onto the highway. Consequently, this lane tends to experience slower traffic flow, rendering it an ideal starting point for novice highway drivers.
By predominantly occupying the right lane during your inaugural highway experience, you can gradually build your confidence and acclimate to driving at higher speeds. Furthermore, this lane is typically the one to be in when intending to access an exit ramp, facilitating a smoother transition when you exit the highway.
5. Ensure Sufficient Space for Lane Transitions at All Times
Concerning lane changes, merging and switching lanes on the highway can be among the most anxiety-inducing aspects of driving. It’s particularly true during periods of heightened traffic congestion, when identifying an appropriate gap between vehicles may prove challenging.
Irrespective of the prevailing traffic conditions during your highway excursion, it is essential to bear in mind specific guidelines that prioritize your safety as well as the safety of fellow drivers when merging and changing lanes.
When merging onto the highway, ensuring a reasonable acceleration rate is crucial, enabling you to attain the speed limit (or close to it) by the time of merging. Merging can compel drivers behind you to decelerate abruptly, augmenting the risk of a vehicular collision. During the merge process, consistently utilize your side mirror to assess the traffic in the lane you intend to merge into while simultaneously signaling your intention to merge using the turn signal.
Similar principles apply when executing lane changes. Employ your side mirror (and, when feasible, briefly glance over your shoulder) in conjunction with your turn signal on every occasion. It is imperative to uphold a defensive driving approach and yield to other drivers when merging or endeavoring to change lanes.
6. Maintain Vigilance
The foundation of safe driving lies within one’s self-awareness. Therefore, avoiding distractions such as smartphone usage or consuming food is imperative, as they divert attention from the task at hand. Instead, prioritize allocating your undivided focus to the demands of the highway. The Insurance Information Institute highlights that engaging in activities that divert drivers’ attention from the road poses a significant threat to safety.
While traversing the highway may form part of our daily routines, it is always best to consider safety precautions beforehand. Internalizing these valuable reminders will contribute to the preservation of your safety as well as that of all individuals sharing the bustling highways.
Despite initial anxiety, highway driving can be mastered with practice. Remember to avoid stopping on the highway unless it’s an emergency, check weather conditions, maintain a constant speed, pick the right lane, allow sufficient space for lane changes, and stay alert by avoiding distractions.
By incorporating these principles into your driving practice, you can confidently navigate the highways and ensure safety. Always prioritize safety and remember responsible and attentive driving is key to a successful and enjoyable highway experience.