Driving on the highway is a no fuss for someone who is already well adjusted to it and does it frequently, sometimes it is fun even. However, it can be very dangerous and scary for someone who has never done it before. It is not uncommon to see many people drive comfortably and assuredly on the local roads and within the city, some even do very dangerous stunts on the city roads… but put them on the highway and they transform into puppies and become totally uncoordinated.
This is because the highway or freeway is a whole new level of speed, control, dexterity and decision making. The conditions of the highway are extreme when compared to the city roads. If you want to see our post on learning to drive click “here”.
A newbie on the highway can be a danger to himself and other road users on the highway.
Today, on Drive-Right, we will be discussing “Driving on the highway”.
According to statistics, the highway is one of the safest places you can be while driving, but it is, of course, intimidating because of the higher speeds. There are three main parts of navigating the highway, and once you master them, driving on the highway will be a piece of cake.
Entering the highway
When entering the highway you must make sure you enter at the correct speed. A lot of people do this part incorrectly. They mostly enter at extremely low speeds which will make them have to start the process of getting up to speed on the highway. This action affects other road users because they would have to brake in order not to hit you.
In some cases, some people enter the highway at extremely high speeds when compared to the flow of the traffic. This will make them have to brake, or else, they would rear-end another person’s car.
When entering the highway, make sure you are almost at the speed of the flow of traffic on the highway (80 to 100 km per hour on most Nigerian roads in free conditions).
If the road is free, you move up to speed and if the road is busy, you slow down to match it.
The sequence to follow is;
- Check your rearview mirrors to see if there isn’t a faster-moving car coming behind you.
- turn on your turn signal or indicator
- Check your side mirror on the side you plan to enter in order to be sure it is clear of any vehicle.
- Look Over Your Shoulder in the direction you want to enter so as to check for blind spots
- Then enter the highway and position yourself appropriately.
Use this sequence also for Lane changes on the highway as well.
Driving on the highway
The lane farthest to the right is the Slow lane and the lane farthest to the left is the Fast or Passing lane.
As a beginner, you do not have any business using the Fast Lane. However, for people who are already conversant with using the highway, you use the Fast Lane when you want to pass a slower-moving car than yourself. Consequently, you use it when you are moving faster than other cars.
In an event where someone who is moving faster than you comes up behind you on the fast lane and you notice him or her in your rearview mirror, it is mandatory that you move to the Slow Lane and allow for the person to pass.
Keep 3 seconds of following distance from the car in front of you. This simply means that it should take you 3 seconds to get to a point where the car directly in front of you just passed. You can measure this using a landmark.
The reason why this rule is important is; if you are too close to the car in front of you and he has to brake heavily, you would have to hammer your own brakes to stop. This is because of the time gap between the moment you see him apply his brakes to the moment you apply yours, and this will inevitably put you at risk of accidents.
Try to keep the speed limit on the highway. Going over it can result in a fine if you are caught and you’ll be putting yourself and others at risk. When it is foggy or raining move at the speed of the traffic moving around you. If everyone is moving at 60 km per hour do yourself a favour and do the same this is because everyone can barely see the road ahead in these conditions
Exiting the highway
About a kilometre to the exit ramp off the highway, move to the Exit lane(the lane closest to your exit point).
To do that, follow this sequence;
- Check your rearview mirror to be sure it is clear of any fast-moving vehicle
- Turn on your turn signal
- Check the side view mirror on the side you want to go into
- Check your blind spot by looking out the window in that direction
- Move into the exit lane
- You can then turn off your turn signal
- Gradually decelerate or accelerate to match the required speed of the road you’re about to go into.
Do not, I repeat, Do not ever exit the highway straight out of the fast lane. You might cause a serious accident, or, at least, hamper the flow of traffic.
Extra tips for young drivers driving on the highway for the first time.
Highway lane changes
Establishing proper speed and distance remains key to managing a lane change on an interstate. Drivers should leave four to six seconds-worth of space between their car and the vehicle in front of them as they maneuver. You should also routinely check the rear-view, side-view mirror and blind spot before switching over. More space means you have more time to avoid a collision or react to debris on the highway.
Start off driving in the right lane
When you’re driving on the highway for the first time, you should only drive in the right lane. Young drivers really have no business heading into the left lane, which is intended for passing (overtaking). “Staying in the right lane will help them interact easily with traffic coming onto the freeway. And it will help them maintain their speed easier”.
Always use blinkers on the highway
Young drivers must get in the habit of using their blinkers constantly, even if they believe their intentions are obvious. “Blinkers are the only way we have to communicate with other drivers,” says Chris Duquin, owner of Stevens Driving School, which has several locations in the state of New York. “It’s amazing how often drivers cause problems by not using them on highways.”
Keep a wide viewpoint
Newer drivers tend to stare at what’s right in front of them. But highway speeds and unpredictability demand a wider viewpoint. I advise that on the highway, you focus on, at least, the third car ahead of you. This will help you anticipate possible braking needs or ditches and potholes ahead of you. Focus on the car in front of you but observe far ahead. “Good drivers continuously adjust their observation points.”
Keep your cool while driving
Learning to drive on the highway is about more than proper driving—it’s also about making sure a young driver’s maturity level is up to the task. “They must understand never to take anything personally, especially on a highway,” says Michael Soubirous, a retired California Highway Patrol lieutenant who now writes a local newspaper column in Riverside, Calif., called “On the Road.” “If someone cuts you off, let it go. You never know the mental state of the other party and maybe they simply made a mistake. Drivers are not perfect, after all.”
Stay focused on the road
According to the CDC, drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. That’s why it’s crucial to stay focused on the highway. Don’t use your phone, try to change music or be distracted by talking to friends while driving on the highway. Find out more ways you can prevent teen distracted driving.