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6 High Way Driving Tips for New Drivers

Freeway in Portland, OR

1. Pay Careful Attention to the Speed Limit

Ever drive down the highway, only to see a vehicle that is moving at a ridiculously slow speed such as 40mph? What they are doing is illegal on many highways, as there is usually a minimum speed of 45mph required on such highways. Driving too slowly poses a hazard not only to you, but also to everyone else using that highway. Plus, it's annoying to everyone, and you could be ticketed for it. On the other hand, the speed limit on most highways is 70mph during the day, and 65mph during the night. Once again, the speed limit varies from highway to highway, as there are some that don't get very much traffic at all, and therefore the limit is slightly increased for these places.

 

2. Stay in the Right Lane

Keep a close eye on any signs that may read "Left Lane for Passing Only", as these are especially common in states such as Texas. Contrary to popular belief, not all highways dedicate the left lane as the "fast" lane, as there are some highways that dedicate these left lanes strictly as passing lanes. It is acceptable to use these left lanes for passing, but not to use them continuously for cruising. Move off to a lane on the right immediately after you are finished passing a car. Such passing lanes are also more common on larger, multi-lane highways. Failure to abide by this rule can result in a fine as high as $200 in the state of Texas.

3. Stay Alert for Trucks on the Highway

Trucks can sometimes weigh up to 40 tons, and require up to 100 yards to come to a complete stop. One good piece of advice is to keep a safe distance behind trucks by watching when the truck in front of you passes a fixed object, then, seeing if it takes you at least two seconds to pass that same object. If it takes less than two seconds for you to pass that same object, you are driving too closely to that truck. Also, don't try to nudge your way between a truck and the curb, as it is a horrendously bad idea. Trucks make wide right turns, having several blind spots up to 200 feet behind their trailer, or up to 20 feet in front of the tractor. In other words, they may not see you. A good rule of thumb is that if you can't see the driver's windows or the actual truck driver, then they cannot see you. Lastly, never pass a truck from behind when it is in reverse.

4. Moving Over for Emergency Vehicles

Many people naturally move an extra lane away from a stopped emergency vehicle that has bright red flashing lights. This is a correct maneuver, as the law requires you to do this. However, did you know that it is usually also required that you go 20mph below the posted speed limit as you do so? In states such as Texas, you could receive a fine of $200 for not following these two rules.

Tips for Road Trips and Longer Drives

5. Taking a Break

Being drowsy can be downright deadly when driving on a highway, or anywhere for that matter. Driver fatigue is an obvious indication that you are not alert enough to drive safely. If you suddenly find yourself yawning incessantly, drifting unintentionally from lane to lane, or find your eyelids closing intermittently due to tiredness, then pull over to a safe place, and stretch your legs. Rest for 15-20 minutes, and repeat this every two hours or so, or better yet, just take a short nap in a safe place, if possible. The best way to combat driver fatigue is to simply prevent it beforehand by preparing yourself. Get plenty of rest before a long drive, and avoid any drinking from midnight to 6 o'clock. Even tiny amounts of alcohol are enough to influence your reaction time when driving.

6. Rest Areas Are Your Friend

Large rest areas are places where you can park your car in a safe environment, and they almost always have law enforcement present. Use these places to your advantage as a place of rest, using the bathroom, checking out road conditions, or learning about local points of interest.

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