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Guide to Safe Highway Driving

Driving on a busy highway can be a nerve-racking experience. When dealing with oversized tractor trailers, merging into fast-moving traffic and changing lanes, consider the dangers that these common actions present to motorists. Being prepared to drive on the highway is important to drastically reduce your chance of getting into an accident. Consider these tips the next time you head out onto the open highway.

Speed Limits

Always follow the speed limit when driving on highways. In California, the maximum speed limit on many state highways and interstates is 65 miles per hour, although some interstates now have a speed limit of 70 miles per hour. These speed limits are lower for some vehicles and when driving on certain roads. Motorists should always observe the speed limit and drive faster or slower to meet the speed requirements.

Looking Ahead

When driving on a highway, it’s essential to look around you and not just at the vehicle directly in front of you. Look further down the road to get a better understanding of the traffic flow and your ability to switch lanes safely. Knowing what vehicles are around you will also help you maintain your speed limit without having to slam on your breaks or risk getting into accident. Also look for road markings and upcoming exits.

Sharing the Road

Driving on the highway means sharing the road with trucks that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds or more. These trucks can take up to 100 yards to fully stop, and therefore motorists should keep their distance. When driving on a highway, maintain a safe following distance of at least two seconds. Be aware that trucks have blind spots, including up to 20 feet in front, on the sides, and up to 200 feet behind the truck trailer. 

Passing on the Left

Many motorists do not know the proper way to pass over vehicles. The simple rules include driving on the right and passing on the left. Passing should never be attempted unless it can be done in a safe manner. Note that it is unlawful in most areas to pass on the right, unless it is an emergency. When passing on the left, be sure to look in your mirrors, look for cars around you and always wait until there is a safe gap in traffic.

Merging and Exits

Entering a freeway can be a scary experience, especially when the roadways are busy with fast-moving vehicles. The key to merging onto a highway is to keep up with the speed of traffic. Use the acceleration lanes to pick up your speed as you watch for cars in the surrounding area. Plan ahead when exiting a highway. When you’re near the exit, begin to count the exits ahead so that you anticipate where you need to turn.

There are a number of things you can do to stay safe on the highway, such as getting adequate sleep before driving. If needed, use the rest areas alongside the highway to take a break from driving. Watching the road signs, maintaining your speed and using smart driving techniques can drastically reduce your chances of getting into an accident.