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How can I drive safely on freeways/highways?

Freeway driving can be challenging for most new drivers, especially going through the freeway ramp. Merging into fast-moving traffic, driving at 65 mph, or having to deal with fast-moving, large semi-trailer trucks can be scary and challenging.

You can be a safer driver on the freeways if you follow safe freeway driving techniques.

Below are a few safety tips for driving on freeways:

1. Avoid driving when you are drowsy or impaired in any way.
Research shows that drowsy driving is a cause of at least 100,000 auto crashes each year; therefore, it is very unsafe to drive on freeways when you are drowsy or impaired.

2. Avoid driving on the freeways when circumstances are adverse.
Try to avoid driving on freeways under these circumstances:

  • Bad weather such as fog, rain or snow, or wet, slippery or icy road conditions
  • Busy or congested traffic
  • When there are possibilities of drunk drivers on the freeways such as New Year’s Eve, Friday or Saturday nights.

If you have no choice and must take freeways, slow down to a safe speed close to the flow of traffic and leave a lot of room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
Keep looking far ahead for traffic slowing and stopping and allow yourself enough time to stop.
You may also need to cover your brakes when the traffic is congested, and there is a bumper-to-bumper traffic.

3. Enter the freeway safely.
When getting on the freeway, turn on your signals, accelerate to a safe speed close to the flow of the freeway traffic, and look over your shoulder and mirrors to make sure that you have a safe distance and opening, and then merge onto the freeway.

4. Stay in a safe lane and at the right speed.
Drive at the safe speed according to the speed limit, flow of traffic, weather and road conditions.
Never drive faster or slower than the flow of traffic.

On the freeways, the far left lanes are used by faster traffic and the far right lanes are used by slower traffic, so select a lane that is suitable for your driving speed and stay in it.

Also, note that the very right lane should be used for entering and exiting the freeway, and the very left lane should be used for passing, so do not stay driving on those lanes unless it is necessary. It is recommended to stay in the middle lane.

5. Passing other vehicles.
If you need to pass the other vehicles, pass on the left. Never pass on the right of other vehicles. Always use your turn signal to communicate with other drivers that you are changing lanes.  Always use your mirrors and also look over your shoulder to make sure that it is safe to change lanes before doing so.

6. Leave a lot of room between your vehicle and other vehicles.
Do not tailgate.  Stay at a safe distance from the car in front of you and the cars to your left and right. Since you are going at a fast speed, you will need to have enough time to react to a traffic hazard and have the ability to stop before crashing into the car in front of you.  Also, you will need to provide enough space for other cars to maneuver around you if needed.

7. Do not drive in another vehicle's blind spot.
Driving in the blind spot of other vehicles can be very dangerous.  Try not to drive directly parallel to other vehicles.

8. Scan far ahead for obstacles and traffic hazards.
Always scan far ahead and your surroundings for traffic hazards and obstructions. This way, if there is a hazard or traffic situation, you have enough time to react appropriately to the traffic situation or hazard.

9. Do not park on the side of the freeways.
Avoid stopping on the pavement, shoulders, or ramps of any freeway unless it is an emergency.

If your car breaks down on the freeway, turn on your hazard (emergency) lights and try to pull over onto freeway shoulder as far away from oncoming traffic as possible.