Highways might seem like a fun, fast drive, but statistically they're the most dangerous roads to drive on. Average speeds are higher and a wrong move can mean a pretty nasty impact. Here are a few tips to keep you safe the next time you decide to go for a long drive down the highway.
Even before you start off
The most important steps you can take to ensure a safe highway drive should be taken before you even leave home. Ensure that the car has been serviced recently before attempting any long highway trip. Ensure all liquids - oil, coolant, brake fluid and even the windshield wiper fluid are all topped up. All tyres, including the spare, should be checked and inflated to the correct pressure. The first aid kit should be in place. A bottle of water and some duct tape can prove extremely useful.
Merging on or off
Merging from a slow moving road on to a faster moving highway should always be treated with caution. If the highway has a proper merging lane, start accelerating as soon as you are on it to get up to traffic speed. If there is no merging lane, come to a complete stop and only merge on the highway when there is no traffic. While turning off the highway, stick to the left side and gradually slow down before the turn. Make liberal use of the mirrors and indicators in either case.
This is something most people neglect on our highways. If you’re driving on a divided 4-lane highway, it’s always a good practice to drive in the left-lane as much as possible. As far as possible, the right lane should be used only for overtaking other vehicles. On a 6-lane highway, the best bet for cars is in the middle lane, as the left-most lane would be used by slower moving trucks. While switching lanes, always check your mirrors first and then use the indicators to warn surrounding traffic of your intentions.
Possibly one of the most potentially hazardous situations one faces on the highway is overtaking another vehicle.Before you start any overtaking maneuver, ensure that you’re at a safe distance behind the vehicle you want to overtake - don’t tailgate. Check your mirrors and blind spots for any traffic that is around or approaching you. Shift down to a lower gear so that you have enough power on tap to do the maneuver swiftly. Switch on your right indicator and cautiously move into the right lane ensuring that there is no traffic in it. If the gap is enough, accelerate quickly to a good pace and ensure that you are past the vehicle in as short a time as possible. Don’t cut too soon in front of the overtaken vehicle and use your indicators for pulling back into your own lane.
Stopping on the highway
Sometimes unavoidable circumstances might force you to stop by the side of the highway. First off, use indicators, or if the situation demands, hazard lights, while pulling over to the side of the road. Gradually move over to the side and slowly reduce speed. Ensure that you stop only on road shoulder, as far away from the highway lane as possible. Once stopped, keep hazard lights running and deploy the safety triangle.